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The Council for Education Ministers (CEM), which consists of education MECs in the country, yesterday defended Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga against calls for her to be axed.
Motshekga has faced fierce criticism and calls for her to be dismissed following the Limpopo textbook saga, which has seen pupils in the province not receiving textbooks six months into the academic year.
The Presidency said this week that President Jacob Zuma had received a report from the task team he had appointed to investigate the matter, but he was still studying it.
The MECs said they had noted with “deep disappointment unwarranted attacks on the basic education sector, in particular, on the character of Minister Angie Motshekga”.
The group’s chairman, Deputy Minister of Education Enver Surty, said there had been many achievements in basic education since Motshekga took over as minister, including an improved matric pass rate.
“The sector strongly reaffirms its support, confidence and leadership of the minister. It is under the leadership of the current minister that in the past three years the sector has made inroads in improving the quality of basic education, as required by the delivery agreement for basic education that was signed in 2010,” Surty said.
The target of a 70 percent pass rate in matric set for 2014 had been achieved ahead of time, and was a big improvement from the “alarming” 60.6 percent pass rate in 2009.
He added that an impression had been created that it was the national department’s competency to deal with the delivery of textbooks at a provincial level, when this was not the case.
“As the CEM, we urge the minister to be courageous and to tackle any prevailing challenges, particularly in Limpopo, with decisiveness,” Surty said.
Motshekga held a meeting with the MECs at the Department of Basic Education’s headquarters yesterday, but did not attend the briefing where the CEM voiced its support for her.
The ANC Youth League this week called for Motshekga to be axed, saying she had failed to take responsibility for the non-delivery of textbooks in Limpopo.
The league said Motshekga had taken South Africans for granted by refusing to act decisively to manage the textbook saga.
They were joined in their criticism of Motshekga by the Congress of SA Students, which said she had failed to deliver on opening the doors of learning and teaching.
Surty said the department was awaiting the report of the task team set up to investigate the textbook crisis in Limpopo.
He said there was a catch-up plan for pupils in Limpopo to address the impact that the non-delivery of textbooks might have had on them.