A reply by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, to a question posed by my colleague in the National Council of Provinces, Michael de Villiers confirms that 12 schools in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo had a 0% pass rate for the 2011 National Senior Certificate Examinations.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) also questioned the Department's planned interventions to achieve turnaround in these schools. The reply referred to monitoring tools for Grades R-12 and made vague reference to the Planning and Delivery Oversight Unit that deals with focussed interventions in underperforming districts and schools.
This is far from satisfactory and is unclear in terms of the department's plans to support these schools in delivering access to quality education.
The Department claims that it sees every child as a national asset and that it seeks to deliver education which contributes towards "improving the quality of life and building a peaceful, prosperous and democratic South Africa".
This platform to lead a valuable life, to prosper and pursue their dreams is denied to the learners in the 12 schools with a 0% pass rate.
Where the DA governs in the Western Cape, schools that achieve a matric pass rate of less than 60% are deemed underperforming.
The Western Cape Education Department supports these underperforming schools through specific interventions, which includes:
- Target setting for schools,
- Providing extra textbooks and resources,
- Learner and subject specific support,
- Additional tuition in subjects with high enrolments and low pass rates, and
- Improving the management of underperforming schools.
Between 2010 and 2011, the number of underperforming schools was reduced from 78 to 30. The Western Cape does not have any schools with a pass rate as low as 0%.
I will visiting Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape to gather information on the current situation in the schools with 0% pass rates and determine the success of the national department's limited interventions.
Perhaps it is time for poor-performing provincial education departments to emulate successful strategies implemented in the Western Cape.
I will also ask the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee for Basic Education, Mrs Hope Helene Malgas, to invite Minister Motshekga, to the committee to discuss her department's interventions in underperforming schools and the viability of replicating successful Western Cape initiatives in other provinces.
The right to basic education is enshrined in the Constitution. It is clear that, in certain provinces, learners cannot rely on the government to establish an environment in which they can thrive.
Annette Lovemore, Shadow Minister of Basic Education