Motlanthe concerned at poor, under resourced schools

Friday, February 6, 2009

Parliament - President Kgalema Motlanthe says he is concerned at the trend that schools in rural and impoverished areas lack infrastructure and capacity.

"Ironically, precisely where education is most needed to help break the cycle of poverty is where infrastructure, administrative and teacher capacity are least impressive," the President said, during his State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Friday.

He further raised concerns on the drop-out rate particularly at secondary and tertiary levels and challenged the educational system to produce the requisite kind of skills needed by society.

"Trends in performance, both in terms of teaching and learning, show a worrying persistence of the social divisions of the past.

The President did, however, note the achievements of the Department of Education, listing the drop in the educator: learner ratio, achieving almost universal access in terms of enrolment at primary school level and the improvement in the number of pupils passing mathematics as a few examples of its successful achievements.

The President said he was also proud of the advances in government's social programmes but noted that they cannot satisfy themselves merely with quantitative change.

"Be it in education, health, housing, water or sanitation, the central question that confronts us every day is how to improve the quality of these services! On this we still have some way to go," he said.

The government has also achieved it target plan set out for Grade 12 learners passing Mathematics at the equivalent of Higher Grade in 2008 to double the number of matric maths passes to 50 000 by 2009.

During the 2008 examinations, 63 000 learners at over 50 percent passed maths, the Dinaledi Schools comprise only seven percent of all schools, contributed 24 percent of the 63 000 high level mathematics passes.

As from last year, all learners wrote their matric exams under the National Senior Certificate, where all matriculants were offered either mathematics or mathematical literacy as subjects to increase the pool of potential candidates who pass maths.

In doubling the output of universities in priority sectors, the department allocated R439 million to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme to improve the facilities at disadvantaged institutions for the support of key skills areas, including Faculties of Engineering and Technology.

The department further developed guidelines on Sexual Harassment and Violence in Public Schools as part of advocacy and awareness raising on the matter.

The guidelines were presented to the South African Schools Principals Association in June last year.