Tag: Education

Home Education policy is “unworkable in practice”

The ACDP has come out in support of the Home Education community and shares many of their concerns which include among other things, that home education under the current Act is treated as a form of independent education and that aspects of the draft policy are measures appropriate to public education.

ACDP Member of Parliament Cheryllyn Dudley today said that “the ACDP is of the opinion that the policy is unworkable in practice. Under-resourced provincial education departments will not be able to cope with the administrative burden of the policy, and significant additional costs will be placed on home educating families”.

A fully constituted meeting of the Council of Education Minister’s (CEM) has approved the Home Education policy for promulgation by the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga. This approval comes after a lengthy consultation process that spanned almost four years.

As far back as October 2014 the first consultation meeting with the home education community and other key stakeholders was held. The meeting was attended by representatives from Home Education Associations, Pestalozzi Trust (the legal arm for some parents); Independent Curriculum Providers; ISASA, Umalusi; South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI); South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE); Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET); and the Department of Basic Education (DBE). In this meeting Home Education stakeholders presented national and international research to the DBE. The home education community expressed appreciation for the opportunity as it was the first time ever that the state engaged them on the practice, whether pre- and/or post 1994.

A second consultation meeting with stakeholders was held in July of the following year where a discussion document was presented and a working group was set up involving all stakeholders. Unfortunately some of the stakeholders resigned from this process citing disagreements with the document, and that they would not be seen as part of the DBE team to review the 1999 policy. The Working Group, however, was able to continue with its work until the draft policy was gazetted in November 2017 for the public to make submissions within 21 days. The Department received numerous requests from the public to extend the submission date to which it obliged and the new closing date for submissions, 31 January 2018, was communicated to the public.

A total of 740 submissions were received and the DBE acknowledged receipt of each submission. Between February and July 2018, the Working Group captured submissions received, analysed them and reviewed the policy after having considered progressive inputs.

The policy was presented to DBE management structures and was approved by the Heads of Education Department Committee (HEDCOM) to be tabled at a CEM meeting for promulgation. The CEM of 19 July 2018 approved the policy. The Department is currently preparing a gazette for promulgation.

The Department is aware that a small grouping is opposed to the policy and has been spamming departmental officials requesting that the policy not be promulgated. However, considering the extensive and all-encompassing consultation process, the Department of Basic Education is confident that all comments on the policy have been adequately ventilated, all in the best interest of ensuring that every child has a right to basic education as enshrined in the Constitution and the approved policy will get promulgated as approved by CEM.

31 July 2018

CSE is sexual social engineering experiment using children as guinea pigs

ACDP Deputy President, Councillor Wayne Thring, said in Johannesburg today that “the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) has taken a decision to oppose the introduction of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) into the curriculum of our South African Schools.”

This decision was taken at its Federal Council of Provinces (FCoP) meeting, held over this weekend (20-21 July 2018), in Johannesburg.

The Department of Education has used the high rate of teenage pregnancies as its rationale for wanting to introduce CSE into the South African schools curriculum in an attempt to reduce teenage pregnancies.

“The ACDP has consistently opposed the current government campaign on teenage sexuality, which includes the lowering of the age of sexual consent, the lowering of the age at which girls may have abortions without parental permission, and the roll out of condoms and other contraceptives to our school children, again, without parental consent. The ACDP has also repeatedly stated that the responsibility for educating children, which includes educating them on matters of sexuality, lies primarily with parents and not the state.

It is the belief of the ACDP that the blame for the high rate of teenage pregnancies, and in particular, of those still at school, lies at the feet of the ruling party. Why? Our children have been exposed by government to pornography at early ages and this includes the proliferation of child pornography, which is on the increase. In addition, the handing out of condoms and other contraceptives to our school children has over the years, only served to entice children to engage in early, and sometimes risky, sexual experimentation.

The view of the ACDP is that CSE is nothing short of lessons to our school children on immoral sexual behaviour.”

Some of the core philosophies of CSE with which the ACDP vehemently disagrees include that “children and adults should have regular sexual experiences either alone or with persons of either gender. A right to sexual pleasure, even at the youngest of ages is a primary right that trumps other rights. Children have privacy and confidentiality rights that trump the rights of parents to guide their education in the area of human sexuality. Most societal sexual and gender norms, especially those based on religious beliefs are unhealthy, repressive and should be changed.”

Thring concluded, “this is nothing more than a sexual, social engineering experiment with our children as the guinea pigs.”

The ACDP calls on all parents, civic and religious bodies to reject the introduction of this reprehensible CSE agenda into our school curriculum.”

21 July 2018

ACDP calls for public participation process on content of proposed sex education curriculum

ACDP Member of Parliament Cheryllyn Dudley today called on the Departments of Basic and Higher Education “to conduct a public participation process for all stakeholders to deliberate on the content of any proposed sex education curriculum.  As the situation stands presently, meaningful engagement with the draft policy on CSE is not possible without having insight into the exact content of CSE curricula”.

Dudley says that, “education about healthy sexuality and sexual choices has an important role in assisting learners to make choices that are in their best interest but the method, message and by whom the education is done, are important considerations.  In formulating a policy response to the issue of prevention and management of learner pregnancies the department must keep in mind that sex education is primarily the responsibility of parents and guardians.

“The ACDP is painfully aware of current realities which include an explosion of learner pregnancies and underage marriages that family and cultural beliefs and customs have significant influence over. Family finances, and widespread hardship and poverty are also motivating factors in terms of sex for sale and dowries.  For example, before a dowry is paid in arranged marriages a baby must first be produced.  Interference in family and cultural matters is not desirable and should always be an exception and not the rule making this a very sensitive issue.”

“The Commission for Gender Equality told the Portfolio Committee on Social Development in Parliament on Wednesday that almost 100,000 underage children in South Africa are married. The legal position is that marriages in which one of the partners is younger than 18, written consent is necessary to obtain a marriage certificate from the Department of Home Affairs.  The commission pointed out however that in most instances, mothers, uncles and other relatives of the 91,000 underage children had agreed on dowries for children as young as 14-years-old confirming that the marriages have family approval.

“The ACDP is calling on the Department to recognise that it is in the best interest of children to work with and through parents and families giving instruction on sex education to parents and supporting parents in their effort to guide their children.  Training parents on matters such as the sexual habits of children, the importance of teaching children about healthy sexuality and sexual choices and its consequences; and even providing parents with condoms and contraceptives to provide to their children if they require it, in the context of a discussion in the home about sexuality, sexual choices and consequences.”

“The ACDP further calls on the Departments of Education to explain the claim or assumption that CSE is desirable and beneficial, and to provide evidence of how CSE will reduce the incidence of learner pregnancies. The most recent research we have indicates that, ‘It is far more likely to see evidence of failure than success in international school-based CSE’ and that CSE ‘may be doing more harm than good’.

“The ACDP has already expressed itself in terms of its opposition to the propagating of abortion among children as a means to manage ‘unintended’ pregnancies.  Of course all concerned would like to find an easy way out of such situations but there is no easy way out – only the right thing to do which brings the greatest rewards long term for all concerned.”

9 July 2018

ACDP notes extension of deadline for public comments on draft Learner Pregnancy Policy

ACDP Member of Parliament Cheryllyn Dudley appealed to the public to respond to the draft policy on learner pregnancy, the deadline of which has now been extended.

“The ACDP is appealingly to the public and stakeholders to take advantage of the extended deadline and to respond by submitting their comments”, Dudley said.

The policy seeks to ensure the accessible provision of information on prevention; choice of termination of pregnancy (CToP); care, counselling and support.

The department justifies the policy saying: “the rate of learner pregnancy in South Africa has become a major social, systemic and fiscal challenge not only for the basic education sector but, crucially, for the national development in general. It impacts the lives of many young people often limiting their personal growth, the pursuit of rewarding careers and their ambitions with incalculable impact on the country’s socio-economic systems.”

Dudley said that “The ACDP is extremely concerned that the social sector’s collective response to the challenge of stabilising and reducing the incidence of learner pregnancy and its adverse effects on education will cause unthinkable emotional damage and fuel the intense anger already in the hearts of broken and abused young people”.

The policy also commits the basic education system and other role players to providing Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) that they believe is crucial to sexual and reproductive health.

“The ACDP is opposed to CSE which includes counselling on the choice of termination of pregnancy in schools.  We strongly object to this short sighted and counterproductive approach to the challenges young people are facing.”

The policy also confirms that pregnant learners must be allowed to remain in school during their pregnancies and return as soon after giving birth as is appropriate for both the learner and her child. Schools will be required to accommodate the reasonable needs of the learner to ensure that her right to education is not disrupted or ended by pregnancy or birth.

All interested parties are invited to comment on the policy in writing via email to pregnancypolicy@dbe.gov.za or fax to 012-3288401.

Kindly provide a name, address, telephone number, and an email address of the persons/organisation submitting the comment.

Closing date for comment is 30 July 2018.

For more information on the draft policy on learner pregnancy in schools, click here.

28 June 2018

ACDP: Make pure Mathematics a compulsory subject, not History

The ACDP notes the comments made by Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, in response to a 156-page report from the History Ministerial Task Team.

The recommendation of the Ministerial Task Team is, among other things, to introduce History as a compulsory subject in grades 10, 11 and 12. While the ACDP agrees that History should, by design, enable learners to be active citizens – including being able to engage critically with the truths of colonialism, apartheid, and the liberation struggle, we do not agree with making History a compulsory subject in grades, 10, 11 and 12. Why?

Firstly, and most importantly, South Africa faces many challenges on the economic front, with high unemployment rates, increasing poverty and critical skill shortages. The disturbing literacy statistics, coming from the University of Pretoria and the ‘Progress in International Reading Literacy’ study, found that 80% of our Grade 4 pupils “still cannot read at an appropriate level.” It was also found that school maths and arithmetic performance in South Africa is as abysmal and lags behind the rest of the world. South Africa ranks 75th out of 76 countries in the OECD countries and is near the very bottom of many other international maths education rankings. As we surge ahead towards the 4th Industrial Revolution, for the ACDP, it is a no-brainer: make pure Mathematics a compulsory subject up to Grade 12; not History.

Secondly, while the Minister mentioned that, “This project is not a propaganda exercise destined to shore up and buttress support for the oldest liberation movement in Africa, the ANC”, one has to question whether this is believable. We need look no further than our northern neighbour, Zimbabwe, to see how History was used as a propaganda tool in the public school syllabus, skewed in favour of the ruling party, Zanu-PF. History may just repeat itself in South Africa.

Finally, it must be noted that the ACDP is not opposed to an Afrocentric approach to teaching History as a subject.  We do caution, however, against History being used as a propagation tool, and believe that 9 years of compulsory History teaching is sufficient time to achieve a desired empirical outcome. In order for South Africa to compete internationally, and lift ourselves out of the current economic stagnation, with all of its negative consequences, we should be paying more attention to the pure Sciences, which includes Mathematics, and not History.

5 June 2018

Heartfelt condolences over horrifying pit latrine death of 5-year-old child in Bizana

ACDP Member of Parliament Cheryllyn Dudley today said that “The ACDP is angered to hear we have lost another child in this horrific manner on our watch as a Parliament responsible for the oversight of the Education Department”.

Viwe Jali, a 5-year-old learner from the Luna Primary School in Bizana, Eastern Cape, fell into a pit latrine on Tuesday and died.

“The ACDP sends heartfelt condolences to Viwe’s parents and family. Your grief must be unbearable.  We pray you will experience the peace and comfort of our Lord Jesus,” Dudley said. “We note the response of the department and are glad to hear counselling services are being provided to the school.”

A case has been opened with the local police at the Mzamba Police Station and investigations are proceeding into the circumstances surrounding little Viwe’s death.

“Infrastructure backlogs are a serious challenge but unsafe structures and those without decent sanitation, electricity and water must be acknowledged as crisis situations and be responded to with far greater urgency.”

Minister Motshekga expressed her anguish saying, “Words cannot express the pain I personally feel at the loss of a young life in this horrific way. To know that as a sector we have not been able to address these infrastructure issues fast enough, for a number of reasons, breaks my heart.

When a tragedy like this occurs it makes us more resolute of the continued need for the Accelerated School Infrastructure initiative (ASIDI) so that we can continue to fast track these schools that are in desperate need of infrastructure and make them safe havens for our children”.

5 225 maintenance projects are presently under way around the country and the Eastern Cape has already exhausted its maintenance budget.

“This is not good news especially as we are facing huge budget cuts as a country and the needs grow daily,” Dudley said. “It is some comfort however that provinces have been compelled to set aside funding for maintenance because some provinces were not budgeting for it and letting schools become more and more dilapidated.”

The Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) has delivered 191 schools to date, of those 141 have been in the Eastern Cape replacing inappropriate structures. The initiative has also provided water to 666, sanitation to 453 and electricity to 372 sites around the country with the majority of these projects being in the Eastern Cape. This excludes schools built by the provinces through their Education Infrastructure Grant.

15 March 2018