By Gavin Davis MP, DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education:
The DA has written to the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA) in terms of NA Rule 106(1) to request that the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, make an urgent statement on the Limpopo examination crisis in the House tomorrow.
This follows serious allegations that the provincial department failed to timeously follow procedure in appointing companies to print standardised question papers for grades 10 and 11 across the province. This has resulted in authorities hand-picking printing companies, without the required vetting taking place, to print these papers at the eleventh hour. This has given rise to fears that leaks could occur, jeopardising the validity of the entire provincial exam process.
The day before exams commenced, schools were forced to make a number of changes to their exam timetables. To exacerbate the situation; on the day on which certain exams were meant to be written, schools and learners were informed by the department that these exams would be rescheduled.
The department informed schools that it would set a common maths exam paper for grades 4 to 9, and a common Natural Sciences and Technology paper for grades 8 and 9. However, this past week the department sent out a circular informing schools that it would no longer be setting the standardised exams, placing the burden on the schools and teachers to suddenly produce exam question papers.
With all this occurring, the provincial education spokesperson, Naledzani Rasila, has the audacity to state that there is no such “bungle” and that examinations are moving smoothly.
The provincial education department was placed under administration in 2011 by the government because of a lack of financial management and rampant maladministration. However, in July 2014 it was returned to provincial control. With the latest series of blunders in this department, one has to question whether the department was indeed ready to take back control of its own functions. At the time, national government promised to provide support so as to avoid any relapse.
It is for this reason that Minister Motshekga must account to Parliament on this situation that looks to compromise the quality education received by the learners in this province. The provincial department’s failure in this regard may indeed be in violation of these learners constitutional right to quality basic education
Every child deserves a quality education which provides them with the tools to flourish in tertiary institutions and the workplace. Yet, Limpopo is consistently one of the worst performing provinces when it comes to the education of our children. Minister Motshekga must act now to ensure that these children are not let down again.