KZN Provincial Legislature: Budget Debate On Vote 5 – Education

WEDNESDAY 17TH JULY 2019: PIETERMARITZBURG
HON MNTOMUHLE “B” KHAWULA – IFP

Hon Chairperson
Hon Premier
Hon MEC Education and members of the Executive council
Hon members
Ladies and gentlemen

The IFP has always valued education as a field that is very close to the foundations and beliefs of the party. Since its inception, the IFP put education very high in the agenda of the party’s programmes.

At the height of the struggle for liberation in our country, when our struggle counterparts coined the slogan, “Liberation now, education later”, the IFP countered this with a slogan, “Education for liberation.”  This is because the IFP has always believed that education is a powerful weapon that can be used to fight oppression, to fight ignorance, to fight poverty and to take people out of their dismal economic situations to total liberation.

It was during those difficult struggle times that the erstwhile KwaZulu government, out of nothing, managed to build all these many schools that you see covering the valleys and hills of KwaZulu Natal. It was during those difficult times of education boycotts all over the country that the likes of Mr Percy Qoboza, editor of “ The World” newspaper, Dr Nthatho Motlana, both members of the committee of ten in Soweto then, and other respected citizens of our country, approached Umntwana waKwaphindangene to seek refuge in KwaZulu schools for the education of their children.

Unbeknown to many, a lot of respected struggle leaders sent their children to schools abroad, whilst at home pushing the masses to boycott schools and burn school buildings. Whilst Umntwana had plenty of such opportunities, the Hon Princess Phumzile, Prince Ntuthuko, Princess Sibuyiselwe and their siblings, were never sent to schools abroad. They were all having it tough here with us in the schools in KwaZulu.

Thousands of our fathers and mothers, our uncles and aunts, our brothers and sisters, our cousins, relatives and friends, sacrificed their lives in death fighting for a Black child to receive quality and better education in a free and democratic South Africa.  They faced death, being pushed by the belief that their blood and sweat will produce a prosperous South Africa.

The IFP belief in the importance of education resulted in KwaZulu government establishing bursaries which saw the likes of Dr Zwelini Mkhize graduating in MB CHB at the medical school in the University of Natal. It is this belief in the importance of education which saw Umntwana initiating the building of Mangosuthu technikon; now known as the Mangosuthu University of technology, instead of pocketing donation funds for himself and his family.

Hon Chairperson, today, what are the South Africans in general and the people of KwaZulu Natal in particular, getting as a benefit in education due to these sacrifices of these bold and courageous South Africans that I have mentioned?

Our education provision in the country and in this province today leaves a lot to be desired. One has to appreciate that since the dawn of our democratic dispensation in 1994, there has been an increase in access to education for our young ones. One also notes that whilst during the pre – 1994 era, nutrition in schools was only limited to the township schools in KwaZulu, today, almost 89% of the schools in the province are benefitting from the NSNP. It is just that the quality and nutrition of food that is served is largely questionable, and its management is wide open to corrupt activities.

Hon Chairperson, the quality of education provided in our schools has suffered tremendously. Not long ago, a study called “Progress in Reading Literacy Study” revealed that eight (8) out of ten (10) children in Grade 4 cannot read for understanding. What that means is that 80% of learners, after 4 years of education, cannot understand written information. This alone means that our schooling system in the country is broken.

The department is reporting that in 2018, a total of 116 152 candidates wrote matric exams. But no one is telling us that when this matric class of 2018 entered formal schooling 12 years ago, they were more than double the numbers that sat for exams in 2018. The system must tell us what happened to the other half? If this is not attended to, the same predicament will repeat itself for many more years to come. Of course, 70% plus of them passed matric, with only 38 573 qualifying to enrol at Universities. The question again is what will happen to the rest who will not enrol in Universities and TVET colleges. That is where our education system in the country is failing us big time. Thousands of young people are relegated to the dustbin of nothingness and there are no programmes designed to rescue them. Hence, the high levels of unemployment. Hence, the many social ills in society that destroy young people. The department itself is conceding that; “the schooling system is not producing learners that are doing well in mathematics, and those that do well do not choose teaching as their chosen profession.”

The funding pressures to the KwaZulu Natal department of education budget are tremendous. Whilst the National target for no-fee schools is 65% according to the National norms, KwaZulu Natal no-fee schools stand at 75%. The 2019/20 funding per learner in KwaZulu Natal will remain at R955 per child, whilst the National norm is R1394 per child in all the no-fee schools.  Hence, the department is asking this parliament, to accept the inability of the department to increase the funding norms and standards to the national rates.

Even with this bleak financial situation, the department continues to pay salaries to ghost employees at Head Office and ghost teachers; the department continues to be engulfed in corruption of the NSNP and Learner Transport services; the department continues to be losing money through inflated learner enrolment figures in schools. These are what must be corrected Hon MEC, so that as this province we can get value for money in education.

Education is a societal activity which needs the involvement of everybody in the community. The IFP is urging for a back to basics approach in the provision of education in our province. Schools are entities and institutions which exist and live within a particular society. When government fails to improve on the situation of joblessness in the community, when government fails to arrest criminals, when government fails to curb the upward spiralling of crime levels, when government fails to curtail the spread of drugs and alcohol abuse, all these social ills spill over to the schools in a community and negatively impact upon the provision of education. Our families are broken. Teenage pregnancy is high. Communities are angry because of poor service delivery, unemployment and corruption. These negative societal occurrences affect the schooling programmes of our province. As such, Hon MEC, the IFP will support your efforts at making our schools safe places for teaching and learning through the active involvement of our communities. But these measures should not end up in the politicisation of education because that will make things worse instead of improving the situation. It is for the same reason that the IFP is calling for the depoliticisation in the management of education in our province. Teachers promoted to management levels as Hod’s and Principals should be promoted on the bases of capacity and ability to perform and not on the bases of comradeship and unionism. Managers at circuit level, district and provincial levels should be appointed on the bases of ability to perform and not on the bases of comradeship and unionism.
Writing about this situation in “The Mercury” last week, William Gumede,  Chairman of Democracy Works Foundation, had this to say; “Elected representatives and public officials freely loot public resources leading to the collapse of hospitals, schools and closure of companies; which In turn lead to job losses, loss of opportunities and broken families.”

Nisho ukuthi anikaboni ukuthi lobu buqhophololo bokunikana izikhundla ngetiye yibo lobu obucekela phansi uhulumeni, budale inkohlakalo ubudedengu nobuphofu? Size sibe lapha lasikhona nje eNingizimu Afrika kungenxa yawo lamatiye obucomrade nobunyunyana njengoba izwe libhubha nje.

The President of the country announced the emigration of Early Childhood Development from Social Development to Basic Education. As the IFP, we note with disappointment that for the 2019/20 financial year, this emigration has not been provided for in the budget. In other words, the State President was merely bluffing South Africans for electioneering purposes. Anyway, there is nothing new in these bluffing promises and pronouncements. They have actually become a way of life in South Africa by the ruling party. Be that as it may, the IFP is appealing for a decent salary for our Grade R practitioners and decent conditions of service for them.

Indeed Hon MEC, the 4th Industrial Revolution is approaching us. The realisation that the future is hurtling towards us whether we are ready or not, and that either we harness the latest technology, or quite simply get left behind is encouraging. The offering of Maritime economics to some schools, and the offering of Nautical Science to some schools and other technical subjects is the right thing to do. One is just appealing that we widen the net of these subjects to even more schools. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is dramatically changing how humans interact with new technologies, how we embrace innovation and how we communicate, and how we use technology to improve the future. But the other sad reality is that there will be job losses coming with this new innovation. Therefore, our education system must be ready to embrace and be part of the new developments, but also be ready to pick up the pieces resulting as a consequence.

Hon Speaker, Hon MEC, for now the IFP will support you in the measures you are putting on the table for this province. But we are watching you. ALUTA CONTINUA!!!

I thank you.