19. May 2009

DA: Findings of education task team 'devastating'

The findings by a team tasked to investigate the state of education in South Africa have been described by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal as “nothing less than devastating”.
The task team was set up last year by former education minister Naledi Pandor and was chaired by well-known educator Professor Jonathan Jansen, who has also been running affairs at the Mangosuthu University of Technology in Umlazi.
The Daily News reported on Tuesday that the team had found underlying dysfunctionality at rural and township schools, and teachers were spending less time in the classroom and more time on administration.
Tom Stokes, the DA's provincial education spokesperson, said in a statement on Tuesday they were deeply concerned.
The findings revealed, among other things, that the culture of teaching and learning had disappeared in most rural and township schools.
“The findings point to the neglect of grassroots schooling and the disempowerment of principals and school governing bodies,” he said.
He stressed that a culture of learning could only be restored if schools were given greater autonomy in hiring and firing staff, in disciplining pupils and in adapting the curriculum to local needs.
He said teachers should take on the mantle of professionals, be given opportunities and incentives to improve their skills, and be given the freedom to move between schools and be rewarded for excellence.
“For too long the authorities have been seeking wonder cures in top-down fixes and in the process have disempowered the very people responsible for delivery.
“A return to school-centred education rather than department-dominated directives is a primal requisite for the return to a culture of learning,” he said. (Sapa)

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