Johannesburg - There has been progress in the ANC’s push for all schools to teach at least one compulsory African language. But it may be hindered by slow progress with the party’s plan to reopen teacher training colleges, scores of which were closed down between 1995 and 2000 by the new government.
The party’s discussion documents for the national general council admit that plans to revive the sector had stalled.
The document, which will inform discussions ahead of the ANC’s national general council in October, said the Department of Basic Education had commenced with implementing its programme on indigenous languages.
“A report on the state of development on the policy on indigenous African languages, which seeks to ensure that the offering of one African language is compulsory in schools, will be considered by the (ANC education) subcommittee in 2015,” the document points out.
It was decided in 2013 to introduce a compulsory indigenous language. But the plan hit a number of snags, such as finding enough teachers proficient in the language, as well as the money to pay them.
But it appears the ANC may now have to consider other hurdles. The document says the most important limiting factor to reopening former colleges is the absence of enabling policy and legislative framework.
“Another factor that hampers progress towards the reopening of these colleges is lack of funding to develop these campuses into effective delivery sites for public sector and education training,” it says.
The colleges were closed and merged with other institutions to overcome the educational inequalities of apartheid and reduce an oversupply of primary school teachers. But in 2012, it was decided to reopen the colleges to focus on developing foundation phase teachers.
But it is not only the opening of teacher training colleges that has been delayed. Plans to open nursing schools and colleges, which the ANC had also agreed needed to be opened, had been limping along.
The party said a priority would have to be to “identify and resolve factors that are responsible for the government’s failure to implement ANC resolutions on the reopening of colleges, especially nursing and teacher training colleges”.
While the document highlights an array of achievements in education, healthcare, science and technology, it gives a candid assessment of where the party has dragged its feet.
It is concerned that legislation to support the creation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme has not been developed, nor had the NHI been set up using state revenue. The fund was supposed to be established last year, and the Health Department was in talks with the Treasury and facilitated by the Presidency.
Another concern was that the ANC subcommittee had not received reports on national skills audits that should have been urgently carried out at all levels of government to identify gaps.
Also, the subcommittee had not prioritised, as directed by the party, to draft legislation that would bar all public servants from taking up employment or positions as local government councillors while still employed in government posts.
The ANC was also worried about the uneven distribution of financial resources between the various levels of government.
It cited an example of billions of rand meant for education and health programmes from the EU that had allegedly being returned or “dumped” on service providers or consultants because of the lack of capacity of the national government to spend.
This was despite many provinces being in desperate need of the money for their operational activities.