The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) is extremely concerned about the state of the education system in South Africa.
Our children are the future of our nation, and the quality of their education is paramount to our prosperity. However, the current situation reveals that our education system is not in safe hands.
The ACDP is disappointed that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) fails to conduct adequate research, and in turn leaves us with insufficient information to determine whether the DBE is in fact implementing appropriate programmes.
The lack of realistic targets and metrics, on issues such as dropout rates and school closures, obscures what happens in our education system.
The recent collapse of the National School Nutrition Programme in Kwazulu-Natal, and our abysmal reading scores, are a testament to the DBE’s inability to deliver on its goals.
Despite these failings, the DBE still seeks more power through the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (BELA Bill).
Our people, however, recognize that the DBE, and the ruling party, lack policies that would enable them to rescue the education system, and they are coming out in their numbers to reject the proposed BELA Bill. Even partisan supporters of the ruling party are expressing their concerns and stand in disagreement with various clauses of the proposed Bill.
We are of the view that the education crisis in our country cannot be fixed by granting more power to the State, but by empowering our people through School Governing Bodies (SGBs).
The ACDP therefore calls for the immediate granting of a modest stipend to all SGB members, with the state paying the stipends for Quintile 1, 2, and 3 schools, and allowing Quintile 4 and 5 schools to pay these from their school fees. In addition, we also demand the implementation of an extensive training programme for SGB members.
It is irrational to vote for a Basic Education Budget of tens of billions of rands without investing a fraction of that budget in those who need to manage these funds.
Funds for this must not come from our overextended treasury but should be generated by cancelling the numerous failed projects of the DBE and reallocating those funds to stipends and training for SGB members.
The State seems to want to undermine the functioning of SGBs so that it can take over the education sector entirely.
The ACDP cannot, and will not, support this budget vote until it includes stipends for SGB members. Our children deserve better, our SGB members deserve better, and we must empower them to ensure a brighter future for our nation.