The Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE), an independent policy analysis and advocacy organisation, has found the issue of corruption and state capture in the education sector “gets no real attention”.
In a webinar hosted by Defend Our Democracy, the CDE’s Stefan Schirmer highlighted examples of corruption and capture in the basic education sector, including the sale of principal and deputy principal roles.
- @CDEsouthafrica says there is a need for public pressure demanding a better education system in SA. Indicates that example can be taken from Peru that turned around education sector in 6 years. Turned from a politicised system to meritocracy based system. #EducationCrisis pic.twitter.com/88ZRTj9Ut0— Defend Our Democracy (@ForDemocracySa) October 10, 2023
Relating to a 2014 news expose on principal and deputy principal positions sold for up to R45,000, Schirmer said that resulted in the appointment of a ministerial task team.
Despite the years of work by the task team and the evidence gathered, the recommendations were completely ignored.
He said that, in addition to corruption, the problem of state capture linked to cadre deployment was at the heart of the issues.
The CDE found some areas that it believed needed urgent priority.
Schirmer said state capture in education must be tackled, which included the dominance of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) in the sector.
He further stated that officials in the department should not be members of teacher unions, and the system should be moved “from incompetence to merit”.
Schirmer said teacher shortages and training quality issues also needed to be urgently addressed, and that while its call for new leadership in the education department and at a ministerial level was controversial, “there is a need for a leadership that can drive reform and that can take hard decisions”.
“This is not a personal attack on the minister, but we do need fresh energy and someone who will make those tough decisions that will make a noticeable change,” Schirmer said.
He added that there was a need for public pressure to demand a better education system in South Africa.