Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

LETTER: The Western Cape Education Department is leading the pack

By Lorraine Botha Time of article published Jun 28, 2020

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Abdurahman Khan writes in the Cape Argus, June 15, that education in democratic South Africa “has changed very little” ( LETTER: Education in South Africa has changed very little).

In some respects this is true, as South Africa is ranked 121st of 137 countries in the Global Competitiveness report for 2017/18, despite large budgets allocated to education in our country. The truth is that if the national government took corruption and maladministration at public departments seriously, much more could have changed. 

The Western Cape Education Department, however, is doing everything possible and spending every cent to provide pupils with quality education, and making significant strides with pro-poor schooling policies, especially during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Many South African children go to bed hungry. The WCED was first to recognise this and kept children fed during lockdown. During the nationwide lockdown, in the absence of school feeding schemes, the need became even more acute as many were left without an income.

Through the data of the WCED’s nutritional feeding scheme programme, the Western Cape government could provide 1.2 million warm meals for children in the province. WCED has now, with the return to school, provided 2.4 million masks, 7000 thermometers and millions of litres of sanitisers.

Schools remain a place of safety for many of our pupils so the provincial department put every effort in to be one of the first to uphold this responsibility, while other provinces still lag behind on safety protocols at level 3.

Amidst the current global crisis, the WCED indicated their 98% readiness to reopen schools with the necessary safety protocols in place on June 1, as legally required. However, two days later, as the rest of the country continued to operate in confusion and uncertainty and where, unpardonably, 39000 personal protective equipment items were stolen from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education offices, which came at the cost of pupils being unable to return to school.

The WCED is a pioneer in the establishment of collaboration schools to enhance support to lower income communities, to ensure they are able to provide the same quality of teaching and learning as more affluent schools, and are achieving excellent results.

It was suggested that the implementation of the South African Schools Act (SASA) was the only win thus far. However, the introduction of the quintile system under the SASA fails to represent the real needs of learners in South Africa and perpetuates a system of inequality.

The WCED has, countless times, appealed to the national government to address this systematic error and amend the provincial equitable share in order for learners to receive the quality education they deserve.

Free, quality education is ready to break new grounds in the solid implementation of pro-poor policies in the Western Cape but national government has again demonstrated, in its ignorance of maladministration and inability to address corruption, that they are willing to hold back for the sake of political expediency, as this province forges ahead of the pack.

* Lorraine Botha, MPL and DA Western Cape spokesperson on education.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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