File photo: INLSA
Calls to merge the two sectors of education - government and private - have intensified, with the Educators Union of South Africa (EUSA) adding their voice to other education organisations such as the Congress of South African Students (Cosas).

However, the Department of Basic Education spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, said private schools had both a legal right to exist and a role to play.

EUSA felt the Minister of Education, Angie Motshekga, should be made to explain why the separation of education based on one’s finances was still allowed to continue.

EUSA general secretary Siphiwe Mpungose argued that the only solution was to invade the private schools.

He said although the country’s Constitution spoke of an equal and inclusive education system, nothing was being done by the department to make education equal.

“The current system of education widens the gap between the wealthy and the poor along racial lines,” said Mpungose.

John Macheke, Cosas president general, said their calls for the scrapping of the two education sectors had fallen on deaf ears.

He said the priority for this year was to force the department to do away with this separation.

“We live in a democratic country. We want to have one system. This classifying of people according to their wealth is killing our country and is not good for democracy. Why must we have two educations systems if we live in the same country?”.

Macheke claimed one of the reasons rural and poor schools remained without resources was because the children of the wealthy and of the politicians went to private schools, so funding only reached those schools.

Mhlanga argued that parents who send their children to private schools do so because they can afford to, and they have a constitutional right to do so.

He said the focus of the department was to ensure that public schools offered quality education to all, irrespective of their background. The public education system has 12.9million pupils already and cannot cope due to additional demand for space.

“Our priority is to ensure that all our pupils are adequately provided for,” said Mhlanga.

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