Debate On The State Of Education In The Zululand District

By VZ KaMagwaza-Msibi MPL

   

 

Nongoma: Wednesday, 2 June 2010

 

 

Honourable Speaker

 

In his presentation during the debate on the State of Nation Address, my party leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi said “we need a new vision for what education can do for our people in KwaZulu-Natal. We do not simply face the challenge of unemployment for school leavers, but indeed their unemployability when the economy is unable to absorb them. Our schools are not preparing the children with skills to enter the formal economy and the new technological demands of the computer age”.

 

The state of education in the Zululand District reflects this assessment. It is very dynamic indeed, characterised by better equipped schools and less equipped schools in terms of infrastructure, space for extramural activities, financial resources, accessibility in terms of transport and school nutrition programmes, and commitment by the SGBs, principals, teachers, parents, and support by ward, circuit, and district office at the provincial Department of Education.

 

As far as schools infrastructure is concerned, I am proud to have built a significant number of classrooms across the Zululand District Municipality during my previous life as District Mayor. It has been pointed out to me on many occasions and indeed in this very House that these initiatives constitute so-called “unfunded mandates” and as such should not have been undertaken by a district municipality. There are two points that I would like to raise in this regard.

 

Firstly, if the Zululand District Municipality had not taken the initiative to build these classrooms, no one, given the lack of resources and the lack of political will in the provincial Department of Education, would have. Secondly, all of these classrooms were the product of public-private partnerships with substantial financial contributions from non-profit organisations such as the Divine Life Society to whom I remain personally indebted for their unstinting support over the years. With this support, over the past 11 years, we have proudly built 450 classrooms and 83 crèches in all five local municipalities of the Zululand District. We have also provided sanitation and fencing in most of them.

 

The Department of Education, whose principal role it is to build and maintain schools, should see to it that no school is given approval for functioning without an initial provision of classrooms as is often the case. Similarly, all schools without exception must have sanitation, be fenced and protected by dedicated and locally sourced security personnel.

 

Honourable Speaker, we welcome the steps that have been taken regarding improvement in the timely provision of Learner and Teacher Support Material. This is to be appreciated since the provision of LTSM has not always been up to scratch. The story of Indiza captures this point only too well. The IFP believes that the provision of LTSM must be open to a transparent tendering process to ensure that the service is rendered timeously and efficiently. As long as any service is rendered on the basis of ‘tenders for pals’, the quality of this service will inevitably suffer. 

 

We in the IFP appreciate that there is now a greater and more widely acknowledged need for each school to:

     Organise ongoing study sessions within each ward and winter school programmes.

     Get the subject advisors to use common test results to support teaching and learning in their districts.

     Send teachers’ analytical reports subject advisors in districts.

     Hold regular meetings between Provincial Curriculum co-coordinators and district subject advisors and HODs from respective schools.

 

Schools have developed and submitted turn-around plans to ward and district managers. Ward managers now need to strictly monitor the implementation of the schools’ turn-around plans. This will assist in retaining learners in their respective schools, thus avoiding a need by learners to move from their schools to other schools in pursuit of better education. Many learners leave their schools within the area for other areas in search for better education. This causes a great deal of havoc to the schools having to reject such learners in giving priority to local learners first.

 

The IFP has consistently criticised the closing down of teacher training colleges in KwaZulu-Natal that have aggravated teacher shortages as well as the quality of teaching. These colleges, built by the erstwhile KwaZulu Government on the instruction of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, need to be reopened as soon as possible to give opportunities for local aspiring teachers, ease our reliance on foreign teachers and empower the existing teachers. And it goes without saying that empowerment without adequate financial reward is incomplete. We therefore call for higher salaries for qualified and long-serving teachers.

 

The IFP has repeatedly raised its concerns with regard to the availability of subject advisors. There are currently 133 such vacancies in KwaZulu-Natal. There are also instances of subject advisors who are irrelevant to the curriculum or who are inefficient and do not meet the demands of our educational system. A priority need is to be given to the employment of more subject advisors who are suitably qualified in time to make an impact on the 2010 matric exams. We urge the Department of Education to advertise and fill these vacancies, which must be classified as critical posts, as soon as possible. Unless all critical vacancies are filled, we will not achieve the results we all want.

 

Honourable Speaker, I wish to conclude these brief remarks by saying that a holistic approach to KwaZulu-Natal education system is very important. Early child development, pre-schools, primary and secondary schools, Further Education and Training, special programmes such as Masifundisane Campaign, Adult Based Education and Training and the tertiary institutions and other programmes aimed at eradicating illiteracy need not be dealt with in isolation. A fair and equal division of the budget could result in better results, thus better education for our province and the country at large. We pledge our continued support for such a budget in this financial year and for the future.

 

I thank you.

 

Contact: Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, 082 804 7993