Cape Town. 131028. Students writing Matric exams English Paper 1 at Gardens Commercial High School in Cape Town. Reporter Michelle Jones. Picture COURTNEY AFRICA

Responsibility has fallen on corporates and big business to train and educate current or prospective employees, says Jackie Carroll.

Cape Town - Until we are able to improve the quality of our education in South Africa, we will have to continue to import the skills that we need – at a premium price. This comes at great expense to our economy; our personal development and the right to a decent life for all our people.

The right to education is a fundamental human right, for without education, nobody can realise their full potential and shake off poverty.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), which has a constitutional mandate to monitor the realisation of the right to a basic education in South Africa, began drafting a Charter of Basic Education Rights last year, with the aim of bringing many public school anomalies to the fore.

The final draft concluded by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and NGO Equal Education will be published next month.

The intent of this charter is admirable, but how will this charter encourage schools and educators to take their responsibilities more seriously. It will take years for learners to be provided with a solid education while the charter’s ambitions for literacy and numeracy take root.

In the interim, matriculants continue to enter the workforce virtually illiterate without the skills to pursue either tertiary education or an artisan career.

The majority of those who have completed matric are being placed on AET (Adult Education and Training) levels that are below Grade 9 with low levels of literacy, which means there is significant work to be done. With this shortfall, responsibility has fallen on corporates and big business to train and educate current or prospective employees.

AET is the only way to bridge the gap of what should have been achieved at school and what needs to be learned to function as an employee, in order to contribute to the economy and society.

Despite year-on-year increased government budget allocations for education, the return is dismal. We spend the largest portion of our budget on education, yet we have been ranked again, 146th out of 148 places, by the World Economic Forum, in the Global Competitiveness report – below all our Brics peers.

The Independent Council on Higher Education’s latest data shows that about half the students who enter university drop out before they complete their degrees or diplomas. This is a huge waste of money and potential.

Losing 50 percent of university entrants demonstrates that matriculants are not equipped for further study. They have not received a decent basic education. There is no point in increasing access to further education and training opportunities, if we do not improve the success rate of these opportunities.

We need to address the quality of our Basic Education. We must not accept a 30 percent pass rate as being satisfactory. We must not accept meritocracy, for fear of believing that we are “dangerously elitist” as Minister Nzimande will have us think, because we reject 30 percent as not being competent.

South Africa is not yet providing every child with a decent education, though the SAHRC charter is moving in the right direction. It is only through education that the country will see significant social change and a decrease of poverty.

* Jackie Carroll is the CEO of Media Works, a leading Adult Education and Training company in Joburg.

** The views expressed here are not necessaroly those of Independent Newspapers.

Cape Argus