Govt to improve quality of education at schools

Friday, August 7, 2009

Durban - Government is to improve the quality of education at schools by changing the learning, teaching and management of schools.

"We have essentially come together to launch a new drive to truly change the learning, teaching and management of our schools," President Jacob Zuma told 1 500 school principals from throughout the country at the Durban's Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande, and Education MECs from all the provinces attended the conference. 

The event gave school principals an opportunity to explain to the President some of the daily challenges they face.

President Zuma said the meeting was an acknowledgement that the policies that had been implemented since 1994 had not led to the delivery of quality education for the poor.

He said there was much that needed to be done to improve the standard of education in South Africa, adding that in recent international tests for Grade 8 literacy, South Africa scored 302, while the international average was 500. 

"This is not pleasing. In the mathematics, tests for Grade 8, South Africa came last with a score of 244, while the average was 467. In a same test, our neighbour Botswana scored 365," he said desolately. 

He said the country could not blame teachers only for poor results. "A substantial proportion of schools still lack the physical facilities that constitute an enabling teaching and learning environment."

President Zuma told principals that they must dedicate themselves to putting the past behind them and making education an instrument of freedom and sustainable development.

One of the major problems at schools, the President said, is that teachers are frequently absent, arrive late, leave early or spend their time doing things other than teaching. 

"The result is that outcomes are unequal," he said, adding that the future of this country lies on the accountability of teachers. 

He said the importance of education in his administration was demonstrated by the fact that the department of education had been separated into basic and higher education.

The Ministry of Basic Education focuses on adult basic education and training as well as Primary and Secondary education. 

The higher education ministry focuses on tertiary, technical and vocational training. It will also take responsibility for the sector education and training authorities. 

The President's meeting follows the promise he made during his State of the Nation Address, where he said he would meet with school principals to share their vision on the revival of the country's education system.