Motshekga takes tough stand on matric duds
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga intends reading the riot act to officials of the three worst-performing provinces at a series of meetings scheduled for next month. Motshekga, her deputy, Enver Surty, and director-general Mathanzima Mweli will scrutinise plans to improve results from Grade R to matric in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.The provinces were at the bottom of the class in last year's matric results, achieving pass rates of 65.9%, 60.7% and 58.8% respectively.Plans for the two-day spot visits came to light after an education lekgotla in Pretoria this week.story_article_left1At the event, Motshekga issued a stern warning to officials that there would be consequences for ineptitude and corruption.She said "mediocrity was allowed to spread like cancer to the highest echelons of basic education"."If the basic education sector wants to be a high-performance organisation, there must be no room for mediocrity, ineptitude, corruption and good old mismanagement of human or financial resources," Motshekga said."We might as well forget about efficiency and quality if there are no consequences for misdemeanours."If a principal presides over a school that achieves 0% matric pass rate, something urgent must give," she said."A similar fate must befall a district director who presides over a 20% pass rate. However, in our present system he or she could be promoted to the provincial education department's head office as a specialist - what is that supposed to mean?"The lekgotla was aimed at finding ways to address gaps in the education system that led to the failure to achieve matric result targets.Mweli said some school districts could be merged because of the inherent inability of the system to ensure performance improved.He could not say if Motshekga had spoken to any premier about the removal of an education MEC because of underperformance, but he added: "I wouldn't be surprised if she does that."Mweli expected Motshekga to read the riot act to the three education MECs in the worst-performing provinces.story_article_right2"She started already - she told us she will not go before the public again to explain underperformance. She told us during the lekgotla that things have got to change," he said.Motshekga, according to Mweli, told delegates at the lekgotla that there should be clear plans to manage underperforming schools and that the management of such schools should "be at the heart of our daily routine".Motshekga also told the delegates, who included provincial education MECs and their superintendent-generals, that "we should be personally distressed that some of our children are not getting the education they deserve".The minister said there were a number of "elephants in the room" such as infrastructure challenges, teachers not being in class on time or on task, and teacher morale."It is actually a herd of elephants," she said. "All learners, at the very least, deserve to have a teacher in front of them for at least 200 schooling days a year. Unless we can get the basics right, we can forget about improving the system."The delegation will visit Limpopo on February 1, KwaZulu-Natal on February 9 and 10, and the Eastern Cape on February 22 and 23.