Budget Debate On Vote 14: Basic Education

Budget Vote Debate- Extended Public Committee
National Assembly
Mr Narend Singh, MP

Honourable House Chairperson,

I read this debate on behalf of my colleague, the Honourable Professor CT Msimang, MP.

At the outset, I must say how dismayed the Inkatha Freedom Party is at the recent wanton destruction of schools in the area of Vuwani in Limpopo. This is reminiscent of the pre-democracy slogan and rallying cry of the ruling party, “Liberation before education.” The IFP has always championed the slogan “Education before liberation” and “Education before economic liberation”, the latter being examples of what should be receiving impetus in today’s South Africa. Schools destroyed are children’s future’s destroyed!

When the Department of Basic Education became an independent stand-alone Department, delinked from Higher Education and Training in 2009, the purpose was to enable it to focus exclusively on the improvement of the quality of basic education in this country.

A substantially big budget allocation of about 5% of the GDP to Basic Education as against 1,4% allocated to Higher Education and Training is a further indication that this sector has been made the apex educational priority in the government program.

Some six years down the line now we must reflect and ascertain whether the outcomes achieved match the amount of investment. We should use as benchmark the quality of the examination results particularly at National Senior Certificate level as well as the level of productivity by its graduates and professionals in the socio-economic milieu.

In passing however, the IFP notes the strides that have been made in the area of early childhood development, National School Nutrition Programme and an increasing number of ‘no fees’ paying schools. However when one focuses specifically on the examination results at senior certificate level in 2015, the performances which are reflected in these do not speak well of the Department, especially where the rural provinces of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo are concerned.

Admittedly, there are several schools even in these provinces which have always stood out as shining examples of excellence with their commendable results. But these are the exception rather than the rule.

This begs the question: What went wrong? There are many causes such as lack of infrastructure and unsatisfactory provision of learning and teaching materials. But let me focus on the quality of the relevant teachers. Many of our teachers have not been adequately re-skilled and inducted to cope with incessant revisions of the curriculum which culminated recently in CAPS.

Many teachers who were sure that the Grade 12 results by their pupils were going to expose and embarrass them turned to unethical tactics. They became complicit in the leaking of examination papers leading to large-scale group copying in 2014. This was a great embarrassment to the Department in particular, and the country in general.

When the Umalusi Council introduced stringent checks and balances to prevent group copying, these teachers found themselves at wits ends. Their learners failed in large numbers in 2015. The worst outcome is that some 22 schools achieved a zero per cent pass rate at Grade 12 level. This is simply unacceptable.

Moreover, these are the teachers who make sure that no technology, mathematics or sciences are taught in their schools. This does their learners a huge disservice because these subjects are essential at university level and are imperative to enable our children to be functional in the modern world of technology.

Needless to say a lot still needs to be done in the area of promotion and development of our teachers.

The IFP supports this budget vote.

I thank you.

Mr Narend Singh, MP
083 7885954

Hon Prof. CT Msimang, MP
082 874 4651

IFP Media, Parliament