Khume Ramulifho, MPL

DA Gauteng Education Spokesperson

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will seek effective ways of addressing the continued poor learner performance in Soweto schools at the Soweto Education summit starting today. We will engage with all stakeholders at the summit to ensure that its success reaches beyond simply curbing rogue union behaviour.

The results for Grade 12 and Annual National Assessments confirm that Soweto schools continue to perform below the provincial average, denying learners meaningful access to quality basic education. Academic performance in Soweto is also low compared with the province’s other townships with similar socio-economic condition, such as Alexandra, Soshanguve and Katlehong.

The DA believes that the main positive outcome of last year’s summit was the end of school disruptions embarked on by the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU). This crippled schools in June every year. Reining in SADTU was a step in the right direction and has contributed to restoring the culture of learning in Soweto.

This year’s summit should dig deeper and effectively deal with the remaining challenges faced by Soweto schools. This includes the poor performance by many schools despite reasonable numbers of pupils per teacher.

Other challenges include high levels of school closures in Soweto where 27 schools have been closed, five alone since 2008. School discipline is still a serious challenge, as is absenteeism and late-coming by both teachers and learners. In addition, Soweto also recorded the most disciplinary cases among teachers.

More needs to be done to ensure that Soweto parents have confidence in local schools rather than sending their children long distance to schools elsewhere. The DA supported Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy when she applied a “no work, no pay” rule to SADTU and believe this played a significant role in ensuring teaching and learning actually takes place.

The DA maintains that the MEC must take a similar tough stance to effectively eradicate the remaining obstacles to meaningful, quality basic education in Soweto schools.

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