Almost half of 2007 Grade ones, did not write matric in 2018

While the Department of Basic Education (DBE) celebrates this year’s 78.2% matric pass rate, Minister Angie Motshekga has again failed dismally to address the large number of learners who don’t write matric in the first place.

Nearly half the learners who enrolled in Grade 1 in 2007, didn’t write the full-time matric exams in 2018 as they were expected to. These learners are either stuck repeating grades or being lost to the ANC’s failing education system completely. The Minister admits that retention should be part of the measure for matric, but conveniently forgets this each January when it’s time to release matric results.

The role of the new Multiple Exam Opportunity (MEO) on this year’s marks is also striking. The Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape all had over 15% of their candidates writing only some of their exams in November 2018, with the rest in May/June next year.

The DA is concerned that these candidates will not go on to actually complete their remaining exams. When we asked the Basic Education Director-General earlier this year how many of these learners actually finished their second batch of exams – he couldn’t tell us.

If these learners aren’t finishing their exams, they are just being dropped from the system to inflate provincial pass rates. So, not only are learners dropping out or getting stuck before matric, we now have the potential to lose thousands of learners who don’t complete the MEO.

A good quality, timely matric qualification is essential for school leavers to further their education and training and secure jobs to put an end to the cycle of poverty.

In the DA-run Western Cape, we continue to keep learners in school and maintain the lowest dropout rate in the country. We will keep fighting for learners to have the best possible start to adult life, unlike the failing ANC which simply drops struggling learners to inflate their pass rate.

Jacques Smalle is the DA’s Premier Candidate for Limpopo

 The following remarks were delivered today by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, at the announcement of the DA’s Premier Candidate for Limpopo in Masodi Village, Mokopane. Maimane was joined by DA Limpopo Provincial Chairperson, Geoffrey Tshibvumo.

I am delighted to be in Masodi Village today to announce Jacques Smalle as the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Premier Candidate for the 2019 Election.

Eight years ago, the Ratunku Primary School was meant to be built for the children of Masodi, some of whom are with us today. You can see why it is now referred to as the ‘invisible school’ because all that has come of this promise is the abandoned space we find ourselves in. There is still no school today, as the young children of this village are left behind by the ANC government

The effect of this ANC government’s empty promise is that the only existing primary school in the village is crammed with over 1 500 learners where 64 pupils squeeze into a classroom, and 4 children use the same desk. Young children have no choice but to walk 7km to schools in other villages, crossing a river and road en route.

At least 7 children have lost their lives on this long and dangerous walk to school. Thabang Matjiu is one of the lucky few who survived with injuries after being hit by a car walking home from school.

Thabang is here today with his mother, father and grandmother. Thabang, I would like to commend you and your family for being here and assure you that we will seek accountability and answers from government as to this complete failure by the ANC government.

The Limpopo Department of Basic Education (DBE) continues to fail in delivering quality school infrastructure. The national DBE conceded in June that it did not achieve any of its Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) goals. As few as 22 of 115 selected schools through South Africa were built. And although there is a more than R5 billion school infrastructure backlog in Limpopo, this year’s infrastructure development programme was allocated R300 million less than four years ago.

But much like this ‘invisible school’, even when the Limpopo DBE did set aside as much as R200 million of this programme to build new schools and administration blocks, these projects were abandoned and have still not been finished. Limpopo Education MEC, Ishmael Kgetjepe, continues to protect the political architects of these invisible schools over learners like Thabang who suffer with the consequences.

These learners are growing up in a world where just over a quarter of the entire province do not have jobs. Worse yet, when accounting for those who have also given up searching for jobs, this harrowing number spikes to a staggering 37.4%. The people of Limpopo need real change, and the DA is ready to bring that change. Change that creates work, cuts corruption, fights crime, speeds up service delivery to all, and ultimately betters the lives of all.

Of grave concern here in Limpopo is also the Makhado Project negotiated between South African coal exploration, development and mining company, MC Mining, and a Chinese construction enterprise, China Railway International Group. This almost R150 billion deal to develop a 4 600-megawatt coal-fired plant in the Makhado-Musina Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Limpopo has been signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

As with the R33 billion loan that the President signed from the Chinese Development Bank (CDB) to Eskom, the terms of reference of this deal have been cloaked in secrecy. The electricity and jobs created will only benefit the new Chinese-controlled industrial park, akin to a country within our country.

While I continue to fight the Eskom-China loan in Parliament, Jacques is probing the Chinese SEZ deal to get answers from government as to the impact it will have on the people of Limpopo. Jacques has a passion for this province and its people. He was born and raised in Limpopo’s Vhembe district and is a proud Tshivenda speaker.

His career in politics spans more than two decades from two terms as a Councillor, a Member of the Provincial Legislature and a Member of Parliament in various capacities.

When the province was placed under administration, it was his dogged fight that more than tripled norms and standards for quintile 1 to 3 schools from a meagre R320 to R1 060 per learner which made it possible for schools to become more independent. So when he offers to focus on funding incomplete infrastructure projects in the province such as Ratunku Primary School before starting on new infrastructure projects to ensure that we use resources effectively, you know that he will fight tooth and nail to realise this.

Jacques has been an entrepreneur from a young age, successfully running multiple businesses from a bakery, butchery and supermarket to an avocado and nut farm. His commitment to a civilian service programme that would provide young school leavers an opportunity to receive industry of their choosing and a programme partnering school leavers is reflection of the fundamental importance he places in investing in the future of young South Africans.

His cross-sector experience leaves him well placed to deliver on his offer to ensure that locals are the first to benefit in all SEZ developments by ensuring transparency on all Terms of Reference (TOR) and Memoranda of Understanding (MoU).

Few are as well qualified as Jacques to champion the DA’s call for Freedom, Fairness, Opportunity and Diversity throughout Limpopo. As of now, he will champion the DA’s charge for change and mission to unseat the incapable ANC government in the province.

Jacques will lead a team dedicating to eradicating corruption and will call for a commission of inquiry into the VBS Mutual Bank investment scandal before Limpopo municipalities lose another R1.1 billion to service delivery projects in the province.

His team will target its spending on completing incomplete infrastructure projects and clearing the infrastructure backlog for rural township schools. With 37.4% of Limpopo without a job or having given up hope of every finding a job, Jacques will make it a priority to support emerging businesses and equip SMME owners with the relevant business knowledge and skills to grow and create more opportunity.

In a province where so many have been left behind, Limpopo needs a leader willing and able to fight for one Limpopo with one future for all. I pledge the support of the DA’s national leadership to Jacques in his campaign to bring this change to Limpopo.

Because it is only the DA that can bring change for Thabang, his family and the rest of Limpopo to ensure we never again find ourselves gathered around an ‘invisible school’ remembering children who have lost their lives because of ANC government neglect. We believe in a better future for all in Limpopo and Jacques is the DA’s custodian of this belief in the province.

Pit toilets: Willows Primary School learners forced to risk lives daily

The statement below follows an oversight visit by DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Nomsa Marchesi MP, and local councillor, Dave McKay. Please find the attached soundbites in isiXhosa, Sesotho and English by Nomsa Marchesi MP. Pictures are attached here, here, here and here.

Today, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Nomsa Marchesi MP, and local councillor, Dave McKay, visited Willows Primary School to discuss the impact of sanitation backlogs on learners at the school.

At Willows Primary we found that learners were collecting water using buckets every day as the school is not connected to running water. Learners are also forced to make use of unsafe and unhygienic pit toilets, none of which are age appropriate and put learners at risk of falling in and drowning.

Every day, learners at many schools across South Africa put their lives at risk whenever they use pit latrines. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) estimates that there are between 4,100 and 8,700 schools with pit toilets in the country. However, they have no real idea how many schools in South Africa have pit toilets and keep providing different numbers.

The DBE is seemingly indifferent to the risk this poses to tens of thousands of children.

Earlier this year, the Department admitted that it had once again failed to meet all its Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) targets. It managed to provide only 45 schools with sanitation out of a target of 257 last year. Only 70 out of 344 were connected to water in the same year.

It is unfair that children at Willows Primary (and many other schools) are forced to pay for government’s ineptitude, and are being deprived of their rights to receive quality basic education in a safe environment.

The DA will continue to highlight the plight of the many learners who have been robbed of their dignity by the ANC government.

Our learners must no longer be subjected to environments that are hazardous to their health and South Africans can help bring this to an end by voting for the DA in the 2019 national elections.

Report of the History Ministerial Task Team doesn’t make jobs the focus of basic education

The DA has taken note of the Report of the History Ministerial Task Team (MTT), released by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) yesterday. The report is comprehensive and voluminous, and we look forward to studying its findings and recommendations.

However, of current concern is the proposal that History be made a compulsory subject until Grade 12.

The DA has always supported History being a compulsory subject up until Grade 9 in recognition of the importance of the subject and the need for our youth to be educated about our country’s complicated and often painful past. We agree with Minister Motshekga that “History should … enable learners … to engage critically with the truths of colonialism, apartheid, and the liberation struggle”.

However, we fail to see how this decision by the DBE addresses the biggest challenge in basic education today, namely preparing our learners for the world of work and making sure they have the necessary skills to be competitive in the jobs market once they graduate.

History is vital in producing learners who have a good understanding of South Africa and the world. However, even if History replaces Life Orientation as a compulsory subject until Grade 12, learners are still faced with the problem of leaving school without being prepared for a very competitive and tough job market.

It is important that young people are best placed and prepared for the world of work. With close to 10 million unemployed people in South Africa, the DBE must be seized with solutions to this crisis. The only way we can begin to undo the injustices of Apartheid is to ensure that learners eventually become active participants of the formal economy.

Child Protection Week: DA lays criminal charges against SACE officials for failing to vet teachers

Today, my colleague, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Nomsa Marchesi MP, and I laid criminal charges against the South African Council for Educators (SACE) CEO, Ella Mokgalane, its Chairperson, Mabutho Cele, and other SACE board members who may have known about SACE’s failure to adequately vet teachers in terms of section 47 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act.

SACE is required by law to vet teachers against the Sexual Offenders Register before issuing licences, but have failed to do so for at least 10 years, potentially exposing many children to convicted sex pests.

This follows the admission by SACE, in a reply to a DA Parliamentary question, that they had not vetted teachers against the Sexual Offenders Register or Child Protection Register before issuing licences, as is required by Section 47 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act.

SACE has failed our children and, as Child Protection Week draws to a close, it is imperative that the teacher vetting body’s leadership is held accountable.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) recently stated in a report that SACE did not, in fact, have to work through the DBE to gain access to the Register.

This does not absolve Minister Angie Motshekga from responsibility, as SACE is an entity of the DBE and her department should have ensured that they were not breaking the law.

Minister Motshekga should now prove that her department is committed to ensuring children are safe at schools and support the call the DA has repeatedly made for this through our #SafeSchools campaign.

We have also urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to end sexual and physical violence at schools through a collaborative effort by the national Police, Basic Education, Social Development and Justice Departments, together with provincial departments of education.

The DA trusts that the SAPS will investigate SACE’s failure to abide by the law. Those who have potentially put children at risk through this vetting failure must be accountable.

Our children cannot achieve their full potential when schools are unsafe. The government needs to take swift action to make sure our children are safe at school.

3500 pit toilets still at South African schools

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) confirmed last week in the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education that there are currently 3 532 pit toilets at schools across the country.

After 24 years of democracy, it is appalling that children are still subjected to pit toilets which put their lives at risk.

The DBE estimated that it will cost about R7.8 billion to address the sanitation backlog all schools. Shockingly, the budget for school infrastructure has been cut by R3.6 billion – when this amount could have met nearly half this need.

Pit toilets are not only hazardous to the health of learners, they can also be deadly. The deaths of Michael Komape and Lumka Mketwa could have been avoided if they had access to decent sanitation.

The DA welcomes the instruction by the High Court in Limpopo today that the province’s education department present a plan on supplying safe toilets in rural schools in Limpopo by July 30 2018.

South Africans can still co-sign our letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, calling for an urgent interdepartmental response to unsafe schools at https://protectourchildren.co.za

The DA will visit schools across the country that still use these unsafe pit toilets and see what can be done to ensure that no learner ever has to be afraid to use a toilet.

The safety of our learners must be of the highest priority. If the national government cannot get something as basic as delivering safe and secure toilets right, then we still have a long way to go in attaining safe schools.

ANC’s R7 billion budget cut devastating for schools

Former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s Budget contains a plan to cut basic education funding by about R7 billion over the next three financial years. These funds are being cut from government schools and will cause the further collapse of school infrastructure, affect the number of teachers and weaken our ability to improve maths and science performance, which are vital subjects.
There is already a huge school infrastructure backlog across the country and many learners will be unable to access higher education if their school infrastructure is left to degenerate.
A reply to a DA Parliamentary Question revealed that, by December 2016, more than 1000 schools countrywide had been built with inappropriate materials, 66 lacked sanitation and over 4600 had pit latrines. A further 81 schools had no water supply and 571 had no electricity connection.
Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) projects are only expected to be completed in 2021 and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has missed all its ASIDI targets in the past year. Out of a targeted 620 schools, none were connected to electricity and this is just one example of how badly the DBE is failing at addressing poor infrastructure.
The DBE has enough money to meet its ASIDI targets, yet it is simply not being spent. The mismanagement of funds continues to hinder progress in improving schools infrastructure.
Cutting essential education funding is unnecessary as the DA has provided a full budget breakdown of how the budget could be balanced without impacting basic education, but this was ignored by the ANC government.
We are firmly opposed to the R7 billion budget cut and will continue to fight the collapse of the neglect of school infrastructure. Our children deserve to have access to environments that are conducive to learning, not have the money to ensure this cut.

Ramaphosa’s SONA school promise already broken

The DA is shocked to learn that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s SONA promise on school infrastructure has already been broken.
It is utterly disappointing that, instead of completing outstanding Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) projects next year, they will only be completed in 2021.
The further delay of this project, which is aimed to replace mud schools and other inappropriate education structures, and restore the dignity of learners and teachers, is an insult to children who are relegated to inferior conditions of learning by the ANC government.
This clearly shows how detached the ANC government has been from the plight of our children, especially those in impoverished and rural communities.
President Ramaphosa stated during his SONA speech that they will “complete all outstanding projects by the end of the next financial year”.
However, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has now said that what he meant to say, was that just the basic services projects will be finished next year and not the school construction. The DBE spokesperson was quoted in media saying: “The distinction may have been lost in the final speech edit.” The school construction will only be completed in 2021.
But even if it is a just a promise for the service commitment, we have absolutely no confidence in the capacity of the ANC government to deliver – given their recent abysmal track record.
ASIDI has performed appallingly in the past year – according to the DBE annual report for 2016/17, they missed all their targets by a shocking margin:

  • Schools to be built: target 59, achieved 16;
  • Schools provided with sanitation: target 265, achieved 9;
  • Schools connected to water: target 280, achieved 10; and
  • Schools connected to electricity: target 620, achieved ZERO.

The DBE was full of excuses when they presented to SCOPA last week, saying it was just completion certificates outstanding. This cannot be allowed to stand. How could they have failed to secure certificates for so many years? And the DBE has admitted in a Parliamentary reply to the DA that the performance is due to “non-performing contractors and Implementing Agents (IAs)”.
The DA will now write to the Chairperson of the Basic Education Portfolio Committee, Nomalungelo Gina, to urgently request a comprehensive list of all planned and current ASIDI projects, stating when they started, who the contractor is, the cost, what the reason for the delay is and what the department is doing to fix the problem.

Back to school: 7 out of 10 Grade 1s starting school will not pass matric

The DA would like to take this opportunity to wish all learners luck as they begin their academic year today.

It is deeply concerning that of the more than 1 million Grade 1 learners that started school in 2006, only 34.7% passed Matric in 2017.

If the Department of Basic Education (DBE) does not urgently address the crisis in our schooling system, 7 out of 10 of the Grade 1 learners starting school today will not get a Matric certificate at the end of 2029. Even worse, over half of our learners will not even reach matric.

Minister Angie Motshekga must ensure that schools like Isisusa Secondary in KZN, which I have visited today and which experienced a massive drop in its pass rate since 2015, do not continue the slide into permanent underperformance. Isisusa Secondary and other underperforming schools like it, cannot continue on this path.

Shockingly though, Motshekga continues to trumpet the achievements of a “system on the rise”. The Minister needs to ensure that all provinces ensure their schools have the necessary equipment and environment to provide our learners with a quality education.

The Minister is already failing to fulfil her legal responsibility to deal with chronically underperforming schools and she needs to step up and address these urgently.

Furthermore, schools like Isisusa that are in danger of continuing their underperformance must be urgently assisted. It is the Minister’s responsibility to make sure that provincial education departments are helping these schools to better serve their learners.

The only way to ensure our children have a brighter future is to make a serious change in government. The ANC is clearly not committed to putting the needs of the people first, caring more about protecting a criminal empire than making sure our children get quality basic education that will provide them with the best opportunities to find work.

The children of South Africa deserve a change and as adults, we have the opportunity to vote for that change in 2019.

Yesterday, the DA’s oversight visit to Fisantekraal Secondary in the DA-run Western Cape showed that, through targeted interventions by provincial government, we can improve the pass rates of our schools and secure better futures for our children and we will not rest until we ensure that no learner is left behind.

7 out of 10 Grade 1s will not pass matric

The DA would like to take this opportunity to wish all learners luck as they begin their academic year today.

It is deeply concerning that of the more than 1 million Grade 1 learners that started school in 2006, only 34.7% passed Matric in 2017.

If the Department of Basic Education (DBE) does not urgently address the crisis in our schooling system, 7 out of 10 of the Grade 1 learners starting school today will not get a Matric certificate at the end of 2029. Even worse, over half of our learners will not even reach matric.

Minister Angie Motshekga must ensure that schools like Isisusa Secondary in KZN, which I have visited today and which experienced a massive drop in its pass rate since 2015, do not continue the slide into permanent underperformance. Isisusa Secondary and other underperforming schools like it, cannot continue on this path.

Shockingly though, Motshekga continues to trumpet the achievements of a “system on the rise”. The Minister needs to ensure that all provinces ensure their schools have the necessary equipment and environment to provide our learners with a quality education.

The Minister is already failing to fulfil her legal responsibility to deal with chronically underperforming schools and she needs to step up and address these urgently.

Furthermore, schools like Isisusa that are in danger of continuing their underperformance must be urgently assisted. It is the Minister’s responsibility to make sure that provincial education departments are helping these schools to better serve their learners.

The only way to ensure our children have a brighter future is to make a serious change in government. The ANC is clearly not committed to putting the needs of the people first, caring more about protecting a criminal empire than making sure our children get quality basic education that will provide them with the best opportunities to find work.

The children of South Africa deserve a change and as adults, we have the opportunity to vote for that change in 2019.

Yesterday, the DA’s oversight visit to Fisantekraal Secondary in the DA-run Western Cape showed that, through targeted interventions by provincial government, we can improve the pass rates of our schools and secure better futures for our children and we will not rest until we ensure that no learner is left behind.