Report card: Minister Angie Motshekga

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education, Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP

The DA wishes the 2022 matriculants who received their results last week the very best of luck. We hope you enjoy the fruits of your hard work as you take a step further in your careers and the exciting journey ahead towards a bright future.

It is only fair that the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga’s effort also be evaluated.

Report Card

Name: Matsie Angelina “Angie” Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education

Subject Grade Remarks
Foundation phase outcomes D
  • A 2020 report supported the 2016 PIRLS findings that 8 out of 10 grade 4 learners in South Africa could not read for meaning in any language.
  • Due to continuous Covid-19 lockdowns and the disruptions to education, learners are up to two years behind in literacy and numeracy skills.
  • TIMMS revealed that South Africa’s grade 8 learners have a substandard grasp of mathematics when compared to other developing countries.
Teacher development F
  • In 2022, a total 1 575 unqualified  and under-qualified  teachers were teaching in classrooms.
  • A SACMEQ study that measured teacher knowledge revealed that South Africa does not measure up to its African counterparts. South African teachers struggled to pass tests in the subjects they teach with grade 6 teachers achieving results of less than 50% – 41% for mathematics, 37% for reading subjects.
  • The AG found that SACE struggled to produce credible performance reports.
Drop outs F
  • Dropouts remain a major problem. The real 2022 matric pass rate was a mere 54.6%, with a dropout rate of 31.8%.
  • Between 2017-2021 the average annual number of teenage pregnancies was 115 761, and DBE reported that 30% of girls do not return to school after falling pregnant.
  • StatsSA revealed that 21.2% of dropouts are due to poor academic performance.
School safety F
  • Second quarter crime statistic for 2022/23 revealed 83 rapes and 19 murders committed at primary, secondary and high schools, day care facilities, special schools and tertiary institutions.
  • 258 cases of assault/grievous bodily harm and 22 cases of attempted murder occurred on educational premises.
  • 411 gang-related incidents reported to DBE.
  • DBE seeks to remove reporting structures from the regulations for the norms and standards for the Public School Infrastructure Act, which will enable officials to avoid accountability.
  • SAFE initiative deadline to eradicate pit toilets continues to be extended, despite the fact that it was supposed to be eliminated in 2022 – 1 423 schools still have pit toilets.
  • 436 mud schools in the Eastern Cape.
  • 900 schools in KZN still have asbestos roofing despite a 2016 deadline to replace the roofing with safe materials.
  • According to the 2021/22 PFMA report, infrastructure projects on average, are delayed by 27 months, after the initial projected completion date due to DBE’s failure to appoint qualified contractors, ineffective monitoring systems, payment issues, and consequence management failures.
Mother tongue education C
  • Despite numerous local and international studies showing the benefit of mother tongue education, it remains a contentious issue with comparatively few schools with a single medium school of instruction, especially in the indigenous languages.
  • Strides towards the expansion of mother tongue education have been made with IsiXhosa and Sesotho being piloted as language of instruction beyond the foundation phase in the Eastern Cape.
  • Clause 5 of the BELA Bill seeks to disempower SGBs from determining the language policies of their schools. This could be used to target schools that offer a single language of instruction, which would rob learners of their Constitutional right to mother tongue education.
Quality of education D
  • The 2017 OECD Benchmarking report placed South Africa 75th out of 76 countries in term of quality of education.
  • A 2018 study found that South African teachers could not pass simple mathematics and English tests, with some scoring as low as 10% for English first additional language and 5% for maths.
  • Delayed implementation of systemic tests to assess learners’ language and maths skills.
  • 69.9% of public schools do not have any libraries.
  • 35% do not have access to any sports facilities.
  • 58.16% of schools do not have access to computer centres.
  • 80.7% do not have access to laboratory facilities.
  • South Africa scored lowest of 50 countries in the 2016 PIRLS.
  • South Africa compares poorly to other developing countries in the TIMMS survey.
  • 10 667 vacant teacher posts (December 2021).
  • Umalusi’s benchmarking study revealed that the South African curriculum compares quite favourably to other programmes/qualifications. Although quality of teaching was not an aspect of the study, it was raised as a concern during the presentation to the portfolio committee.

Minister Motshekga has ample room for improvement. Although her Department has a number of worthy initiatives, they will not succeed without focus and a concerted effort to address and solve the numerous serious concerns plaguing the South African education system.