By Mariette Pittaway, DA MPL in the Free State Provincial Legislature:
The DA in the Free State is concerned that the annual matric results continued its drop for a third year in a row by 5.6 percentage points from 87.2% for 2013 to 81.6% for the class of 2015.
Unfortunately, the drop in matric results reflects the poor performance of the provincial Department of Education.
The department has lost about 2 000 teachers over the last three years. It has regularly failed to pay teachers’ salaries on time and is notorious for not timeously paying out state subsidies to public ordinary and independent schools. The DA is aware that many schools are still waiting for the fourth quarter payments of last year. This sort of behaviour makes it really difficult, if not impossible, for educators to deliver the quality education our learners deserve.
Moreover, the department struggles to manage its limited financial resources effectively. Last year the department incurred almost R600 million in unauthorised expenditure.
The matric results is just one performance indicator of the education system. Education MEC Tate Makgoe did not touch on the retention rate of province.
For the class of 2014 almost 30 000 Free State learners left school between grades 10 and 12, bringing the dropout rate to 61%. The DA believes that the department continues to struggle with improving the province’s retention rate. The DA submitted a written question to MEC Makgoe early last year requesting this information, but he has been consistent in avoiding the issue. The DA will resubmit these questions to the National Minister of Education, Angie Motshekga.
The huge dropout rate between Grades 10 to 12 remains of huge concern as this leaves thousands of learners annually without the basic education they need to enter tertiary education and the workforce. It denies a generation the opportunity of success and prosperity and relegate them to a life of poverty and unemployment. The Free State can do better.
The DA would like to congratulate all Free State matriculants who passed and obtained their National Senior Certificates, we wish them well for their future. We would also like to extend its thanks and appreciation to those teachers and school principals who continue to dedicate so much to the education of our children. Their important roles hardly ever get the recognition they deserve.
The DA in the Free State would also like to congratulate the DA-led provincial government of the Western Cape for its stellar performance in improving the quality of education in that province. The Western Cape Department of Education achieved the highest pass rate nationally of 84.7%. It also obtained 41.7% bachelors passes. The department continues to excel in the performance of Mathematics and Physical Science. Every learner in the Western Cape who obtained their National Senior Certificate qualified for access to higher education, the first province to do so in a democratic South Africa.
The DA is committed to improving basic education and our government makes all resources available to ensure that learners are educated and skilled towards becoming successful, responsible and prosperous citizens. The performance of the Western Cape Government bears witness to this commitment.