Minister forges ahead with plans to improve education

Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Francis Hweshe

Cape Town - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga's bold plans to bring quality education to South African schools have been largely welcomed by Parliament's National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

Motshekga addressed the House on Tuesday during her department's budget vote debate, in which she reiterated government's commitment to give learners a good education.

The department has received over R13 billion in its budget, as government set the wheels in motion to uplift and empower the country's young through solid schooling.

The minister said, among other things, that they were focused on improving teacher development and ensuring every child had a text book for every subject.

Motshekga reiterated the need for teachers to be in class for at least seven hours a day, adding that they wanted to attract young and qualified individuals to the profession.

Among recent improvements on the troubled Eastern Cape schools, the minister said school nutrition programmes had since been restored; temporary teachers brought back, while shortages of stationery were being sorted out.

Challenges that still remain include inequality in the education system, poor financial controls in some schools, poverty and teenage pregnancies.

Despite the inequalities, she said they "will ensure that no child is left behind."

Motshekga's speech was welcomed by the African National Congress (ANC) and opposition parties such as the Democratic Alliance (DA).

The ANC said the budget allocation to the department was a clear indication that government wanted to improve the schooling system, particularly in poorer communities which still suffered from the legacy of apartheid.

The party also expressed its views on farm owners who accommodated schools, saying they should stop "dictating" to parents and learners.

Western Cape Education MEC Donald Grant welcomed the minister's speech, and said the province's plans on improving the quality of education were well underway.

Grant said they have opened five new schools, with eight under construction, and had plans to replace 15 others and were providing 171 mobile classrooms.

"We will continue to work hard to improve the quality of education," he said.

However, the Congress of the People said that while billions were being spent on education "on the ground", nothing was improving.

The party said schools remained divided between rich and poor, adding that rural schools and poorly trained teachers remained a challenge.

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