Tom Stokes, MPP
DA KZN Spokesperson on Education
IN June this year, the Democratic Alliance opposed the KZN Education Budget on the grounds that it simply could not deliver the operational programmes that it was complied for. Last week we learnt from Education HOD, Dr Sishi that indeed cuts of R350m will have to be made in the current year and that over the next three years R1.5bn cuts are expected. This is a disaster. Yet Sishi supports these cuts because “it is good for the economy” that is struggling as a result of a global crisis.
This is a staggering admission from a senior official who is entrusted with ensuring the delivery of one of the most vital cogs in our economic machinery. If he believes that it makes good sense to “save now for a better education in the future” then he has little understanding of the immense effect present inadequacies in our education system will have on our future economic growth, and conversely, the leverage each rand spent on education has in terms of future economic benefit.
There is no point in complaining that over 70% of the education budget goes on salaries- that is the nature of the business. Far more important is addressing the desperately poor standards of teaching, the paucity of teacher training, the lack of accountability both in the classroom and in school leadership, and the destructive influence Sadtu has on resolving these problems. We need to concentrate our energies and budgets on increasing the effectiveness of the interface between teacher and learner as this has as much to do with political will and effective administration as it has to do with money.
If education is the nation’s number one priority – and it should be – then we need to fix it first, fix it good and fix it now. For this to happen, we need sharper leadership than we presently have in government.