Education stakeholders welcome department split

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pretoria - Stakeholders in the education sector have welcomed the creation of two education ministries.

President Jacob Zuma announced on Sunday that in the new administration, education has been split into two separate ministries - basic education and higher education and training.

South African Communist Party Secretary General, Dr Blade Nzimande has been appointed as Minister of Higher Education and Training while former Gauteng Education MEC Angie Motshekga will head the Ministry of Basic Education.

Ms Motshekga will focus solely on the schooling system while Dr Nzimande will pay special attention to institutions of higher learning.

Council on Higher Education Chief Executive Officer, Dr Cherly De Larey, said the council welcomed the appointment of Dr Nzimande as he had much experience in higher education and education policy matters.

"He comes with lot of experience in higher education; he chaired the education portfolio and has experience in education policy matters.

"We are delighted with his appointment and looking forward to working with him in addressing urgent issues affecting higher education," Dr De Larey told BuaNews.

The Council on Higher Education is mandated to advise the ministry on all higher education policy issues.

Meanwhile, South African Democratic Teachers Union spokesperson John Lewis said the union was supportive of the splitting of education into two separate ministries, as the old department was far too large and created various kinds of problems.

Mr Lewis described Minister Motshekga as the best candidate for the portfolio.

"She knows the education system from the bottom up and we have no doubt that she will be able to turn the system around," Mr Lewis said.

He said through Dr Nzimande's academic background, the union will be able to engage with him regarding crucial matters affecting the education system.

"We will be able to engage with him and come up with a suitable way forward," he said.

Dr Nzimande, who has a doctorate in philosophy, has been the South African Communist Party General-Secretary since 1998.

He has also been appointed as a member of the ANC Parliamentary Study Group on Education and as a Council member at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He also chairs the Board of Trustees for the Centre for Educational Policy Development.

Announcing several changes to the structure of government and his executive on Sunday, President Zuma said this was necessary to speed up service delivery and efficiency.