The Future of Education in South Africa

Mar 24, 11 The Future of Education in South Africa

Multiple crises befell the education system of South Africa in the start of the new school year, 2011. These crises were evident in one of the less developed provinces the Eastern Cape.  The Education Department in the Eastern Cape was faced with financial mismanagement and corruption, bad school infrastructure, teaching contracts that were not renewed and the lack of funds for nutritional feeding schemes and transport programmes.  These issues negatively affected the quality of education and life for learners and teachers. The quality of education in the Eastern Cape has always been in question and this in turn questions the future of education in the Eastern Cape and South Africa.  This situation caused a delay in the educational proceedings in the Eastern Cape, learners were stranded and teachers were left without jobs for weeks on end.

The department of education in the Eastern Cape last year failed to renew working contracts for 4000 temporary teachers for the year 2011. This according to the Eastern Cape Department of Education was due to the lack finance to further pay their salaries. This was only discovered during the start of the school year when the teachers arrived at schools only to be told that they could not teach anymore. This affected the day to day running of the schools particularly in the rural areas because of the quality of education that already exists. This matter was taken up at national level by Equal Education. This group became adamant to illustrate the effects that these crises were having on the learners and the possibility of improving the level of education in the Eastern Cape and South Africa.

Equal Education undertook activities that played an important role in putting pressure on the government to act on this matter. On the 17th of February Equal Education grade 11 and grade 12 Khayelitsha youth groups created a classroom setting outside Parliament. The purpose of this picketing was to illustrate the poor delivery of education in the Eastern Cape. The picketing consisted of photographs exhibiting the poor infrastructure, speakers from the schools most affected for the incompetence of the Department of Education in the Eastern Cape. Members of Equal Education also expressed their opinions through presentation and poetry.  

The picketing was effective because it targeted Parliament where issues concerning South Africa are discussed daily. The picketing was televised nationally and the President of South Africa Jacob Zuma was not impressed by the Department’s performance in the Eastern Cape. The main problem with the incompetence of the Department of Education in the Eastern Cape was financially based.  This performance questions the ability of the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga and the department as a whole on delivering and fulfilling their responsibilities.  The Department hired 4000 temporary teachers, teachers who hoped that they would return to school in 2011 however they were met with a surprise. This was not professional from the Department; the court ordered that the teachers be rehired. However, the Minister was not pleased with this; she claimed that there will be an investigation since some teachers do not have the correct qualifications. The Department was supposed to be aware of this issue before hiring unqualified teachers.  Therefore, the Department must take full responsibility of raising hopes of these temporary teachers and learners. The Department has to realise that the decisions they make affect a majority of people, they need to allocate the budget provided by the government appropriately. The inappropriate allocation of budget affected the transport programme, the feeding scheme, the learners and teachers.

This shows that the government of South Africa only acts when there are protests and picketing, the government must fulfil its responsibilities before protects or picketing occur. No group or organisation decides in the spare of the moment to protest, the government is well aware of the issues affecting the people yet there is procrastination. Picketing and protesting has well become a South African tradition that has to come to a halt. This can only happen when the government takes responsibility and acts according to its promises. Another solution would be that the government stops making promises and tell the people what it can and cannot do for them. On the matter at hand, the education system of South Africa is a concern because the issue of the quality education is always at the forefront of the educational discourse in South Africa. This matter must be dealt with by going back to the drawing board. The Department has to come up with a plan that will directly restructure the system so that there will be quality teachers and hence quality education. The education financial budge must also be revised; proper allocation of funds must be made to ensure a well structured Department.

Image by dblackadder