Rafeek Shah, MPL
DA KZN Alternate Spokesperson on Education
While last week’s State of the Province address by KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu included some commendable goals within education, the current situation within the province’s education department, renders his words as little more than rhetoric.
Last week the Premier convincingly stated, and I quote, “we have to ensure that by 2020, 70% of grade 3, 6, and 9 learners are performing at the required levels in the Annual National Assessments and that we achieve an 80% National Senior Certificate Pass rate.”
He also expressed a desire to “ensure a seamless transition of learners from early childhood development, to adult literacy” and emphasised the importance of education as the key to the growth and development of KZN.
Furthermore, the goal of our Education System, he said, “must be to give every child an equal opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes to make a positive contribution in society.”
The question is – how will the Premier achieve this when the province’s education department is failing to achieve the very basics – including paying teachers’ salaries.
A case in point is the Zululand Remedial Centre in Empangeni, where experienced staff have not been paid salaries for more than five months.
This is an LSEN school catering for the special needs of pupils with learning challenges. It now faces losing skilled educators, including a therapist, vital to the remedial education staff compliment. This as a direct result of not paying their salaries over a prolonged period of time.
How does the Premier expect an educator, who does not have money to meet his or her financial commitments for several months, to remain motivated?
The DA has been reliably informed that there are other educators within the province who find themselves in a similar predicament.
We are committed to following up on this matter through parliamentary questions to Education MEC, Peggy Nkonyeni and through the province’s education portfolio committee. We expect her to fix this mess.
The Premier can build castles in the air, but it would be extremely foolish to try and live in them. All is not well within KZN’s Education department – he must deal with this or face the risk that his aspirations will remain a pipe-dream at best.