|2012 06 15 'No crisis in education'|
EDUCATION Minister Angie Motshekga and her deputy Enver Surty say there is no crisis in education and that court cases against them in Eastern Cape and Limpopo are just meant to "sensationalise delicate matters".
Speaking to journalists in Pretoria on Thursday, Motshekga said: "There is no crisis. The education sector is massive, with 27,000 schools and more than 500,000 teachers.
"I cannot say it is perfect, it is not easy because it is complex and has challenges, but MECs make it manageable."
The department was taken to court in Limpopo over the delivery of textbooks for the foundation phase and Grade 10 pupils.
"We were not contesting giving learners textbooks but we were contesting the delivery date. We actually won the court case because the court agreed on our date. The litigators wanted the textbooks to be delivered on May 31 and we wanted to deliver on June 15 (today)," Motshekga said.
The other case that the department is fighting is against New Generation Publishers, who want an interim interdict to stop the printing of the National Catalogue on the Grade 11 accounting textbook. The company's main dispute is the disqualification of their textbook after they flouted the department's requirement not to include the author's or publishers name on the submission.
"The rationale behind this requirement was to prevent any form of bias on the part of screeners," she said.
"The company admits they made mistakes but I do not understand why they are taking us to court. If we stop the printing no schools can procure books for next year."
With regards to Eastern Cape, unions and the department signed an agreement on Wednesday over temporary teachers and excess teachers. In 2011, the department dismissed temporary teachers in Eastern Cape.
Acting Eastern Cape department head Mthunywa Ngozo said: "We signed an agreement last night (Wednesday) to appoint temporary teachers to fill in the blanks. Most of them have been absorbed into the department anyway. We also agreed to develop a management plan to transfer excess teachers."
There have been problems with the non-payment of temporary teachers and failure to fill 7500 posts in Eastern Cape.
Surty said the court case by non-governmental organisation Equal Education over mud schools was "counter-rational planning as the department had a plan to eliminate the schools over three years".
"There are more than 300 mud schools in Eastern Cape. Forty-nine are already being rebuilt and about 100 will be dealt with this year.
"The court case is just meant to sensationalise the issue as they only have two schools. We have a plan to deal with the mud schools district by district."
Motshekga also announced that teachers who mark matric papers will now have to take competency tests in their subjects.
"This is to ensure that if we say we had a 72% pass rate, it is accurate. We have also agreed with unions on teacher development. The system cannot be better than its teachers.
"In terms of the recapitalisation of technical schools, we are pleased to announce that in the last financial year we were allocated R210-million and we have managed to spend R151-million, about 72% on technical schools and the department is implementing the resolutions of the meeting.
Tebogo Monama and Khutso Tsikene