We stand by Angie - MECs
Education Minister Angie Motshekga has received support from her deputy and provincial MECs, who insist that she is doing a sterling job.
The senior officials said yesterday that the media's coverage of the continuing Limpopo textbooks scandal amounted to "unwarranted attacks" on her.
They called a press briefing, after meeting Motshekga yesterday, to highlight the "great achievements in basic education" made under her leadership.
The ANC Youth League and the general-secretary of trade union federation Cosatu, Zwelinzima Vavi, have called for Motshekga to resign because of the scandal that left pupils in Limpopo without textbooks for seven months.
The league and the Congress of South African Students have threatened "mass action" if Motshekga does not resign within two weeks amid reports that she knew about problems with textbook deliveries last year.
Yesterday Deputy Minister of Education Enver Surty responded to the calls for Motshekga's head.
"[All basic education MECs] strongly reaffirm their support, confidence and leadership of the minister," he said.
The MECs felt "deep disappointment" at the "unwarranted attacks on the Department of Basic Education and in particular on the character of Minister Angie Motshekga".
Surty said that, under Motshekga's leadership, the department had made "inroads in improving the quality of basic education".
"Six months ago, the sector was hailed as a beacon of hope, based on the fact that for two consecutive years matric results have been improving," he said. "The target of the 70% pass rate set for 2014 has been achieved ahead of time."
The pass rate has improved from 60.6% in 2009 to 72.7% in the November 2011 and March exams.
Under Motshekga, the department had received unqualified audit reports from the auditor-general.
Surty said the minister had negotiated with the Shuttleworth Foundation to make sure that textbooks were accessible to every pupil in 2014.
He said that not all pupils in Limpopo had been without textbooks.
"Only learners in Grades 1 to 3, and in Grade 10, were affected."
He said that pupils in Grades 1 to 3 received literacy, numeracy and life-skills textbooks at the beginning of the year.
Surty said it was not fair to assume that nothing had happened in Limpopo classrooms since the beginning of the year.
"Teaching did take place," he said. "The principals - when meeting Motshekga - in Limpopo asked her: 'Do you really think we would sit and do nothing?'"
He said it was unfair to tarnish the entire Department of Education because of problems in Limpopo.
"To drag the entire sector [Basic Education] to the limitations and gaps of Limpopo is unfair, particularly as the presidential task team is still investigating the causes of the problem."
The government's intervention in Limpopo was an "acknowledgement that already there were problems in that province", he said.