Minister of Education Naledi Pandor has said that officials and administrators in the Department of Education can no longer play the ‘Apartheid!’ card when quizzed on why they’re not performing.
Some cite apartheid. I acknowledge that the legacy of apartheid continues to affect us, but it no longer serves to explain continued failures on our part. Others cite inadequate resources. Yet, given our budget, this is also no longer a persuasive argument.
That’s kind of refreshing to hear from a cabinet minister, we’ll see if other departments start expressing the same sentiment.
This has been a loooooooong time coming.
After years of policy uncertainty, the Public Service Commission wants to prevent companies that do business with the government from hiring senior public servants, as a way to curb the ethical headache of conflict of interest.
Another concern is company shareholdings as a civil servant might not be an employee but they might be a part owner. However we are seeing some positive signs in this area, witness the looming court battle between current national lottery operating company Uthingo and new licensee Gidani, who just happen to have Minister of Education Naledi Pandor as a shareholder.
Despite the backslapping over the 2006 matric results if one digs deeper the results don’t look all that celbratory. David Macfarlance lists his complaints with Minisiter of Education Naledi Pandor and her department in an op-ed at the Mail&Guardian. The following excerpt highlights two important complaints: the continued overburden of certain school districts despite over 13 years of the current administration and the abysmal Maths and Science pass rates.
But two of the minister’s other criticisms of the system’s performance serve to raise questions about the extent to which the national government is indeed playing its part. Illustrating her contention that districts need to provide better support to schools she observed that the Namakwa district in the Northern Cape has merely 20 secondary schools to oversee, while the Capricorn district in Limpopo has a staggering 362.
It is dismaying, however, 12 years into our democratic dispensation, to hear a national education minister produce this figure with an air of discovery. School districts do not come about via acts of God: government officials draw lines on a map. And for years educationists have been sounding alarms about the functioning of districts, usually to deafening government silence.
The second example concerns the wretchedly low 2006 pass rates in higher grade maths and science—4,8% and 5,6% respectively. Rather wanly, Pandor commented that “we will have to pay much closer attention to performance in these subjects”.
But what “attention” exactly has the national government been paying for 10 years now regarding these subjects? Since 1997 the pass rate in maths has never exceeded 5,3%; in science over the same period the highest pass rate was a paltry 5,9%. After all, “national [government] is responsible for policy development, monitoring and support to ensure we achieve desired outcomes,” Pandor observed; yet what has its monitoring over 10 years in these two areas achieved?
Education holds the key to be the true equaliser of society in South Africa and that the situation is as dire as it is 13 years after the end of Apartheid is nothing short of a slow moving tragedy.
Education Director-General Duncan Hindle has decided one of the the best ways to solve the shortage of qualified maths and sciences teachers is to import them from Zimbabwe.
Which makes the SA governments criticism of the UK government for doing the same thing by recruiting SA teachers just a little bit more hypocriticial.
The Mail & Guardian have released their report card rating cabinet ministers (and leaders of the opposition, that “C” must get Tony Leon depressed).
One thing about this report card, and the one released by the DA, that gets to me is the high marks for Minister of Science Mosibudi Mangena. In my books opening a single radio telescope, no matter how internationally prestigous, does not warrant such a high rating. South Africa, if it ever wants to hit that 6% GDP growth rate, is going to need a lot more engineers and scientists than what’s currently coming out of our universities and technikons… oops universities of technology… ah screw it I’m calling them technikons. And the number of students with higher grade maths and science coming out of our secondary education system is abysmally low. Minister Mangena needs to get together with Minister of Education Naledi Pandor and get a science/engineering plan of action in place. Double stat!