Education - What the parties promise
As South Africa gears up for national elections, political parties have made their stands clear on all important issues, including education. Thabo Mohlala examined the policies and plans for education set out in the manifestos of all the major political parties and some of the smaller parties.
There are many areas of commonality - but there are also some striking differences.
The ACDP is committed to providing quality education and will encourage greater parental involvement in the education of their children. The party favours a voucher system that would allow parents to choose the school that best reflects their values. It will develop the intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual virtues of all citizens. The party believes in value-based education that promotes integrity, charity and responsibility. It will protect freedom of religion within schools and ensure that parents and school governing bodies have the right to decide the religious ethos of a school. The ACDP is opposed to life skill programmes in schools, feeling that they promote abortion, licentious sex and deviant lifestyles. It will prioritise educational discipline from teachers as well as students. It will not tolerate drugs, alcohol or gangsterism within school premises.
African National Congress
The ANC holds that education lies at the heart of its efforts to transform the country and build a nation in which all have equal access and opportunities. For the next five years it plans to ensure that all learners have decent classrooms and will commit resources to maintaining school infrastructure; reduce teacher/pupil ratios and invest in teachers by encouraging new recruits into the profession; equalise educational funding for the poor across different provinces; expand the school nutrition programme; take more young people through learnerships in both public and private sectors so that they gain skills and experience for accessing jobs; build the country’s skills base by ensuring that skills development authorities function properly; and intensify assistance to youth agencies such as the Umsobomvu Youth Fund in order to provide skills training for employment and self employment as well as helping implement national youth service.
Azanian People’s Organisation
Azapo regards education as a tool for the empowerment and socialisation of human beings from their formative years to the realisation of their potential. Thus it will ensure that educational planning and supervision remain in the hands of the state,and provide free and compulsory education from pre-school to grade 12 or age 18; establish a national redress fund to assist needy students; restructure tertiary institutions in line with principles of equity and redress; develop indigenous languages to enable people to regain their dignity, respect and identity, and also address issues in commerce, science and technology; promote adult basic education to reduce the high rate of illiteracy; and ensure that learners and educators abide by a teaching and learning code of conduct.
The DA will reward schools that are performing well with the freedom to manage themselves and will ensure that education is not subjected to undue interference, centralisation and stultifying uniformity. It will use ‘targeted intervention programmes” in schools that are underperforming, introducing ‘whole school development teams’’ to work directly with weak schools. The party will institute bursaries for the brightest children from poor families. It will stop centralised teacher
appointments and redeployment and encourage talented people to see teaching as an exciting career. It will revise Curriculum 2005 and institute national examinations in key subjects in grades 3, 6, 9 and 12; allow school governing bodies to decide on the language of instruction; safeguard the academic freedom of universities and technikons; provide tax rebates for tertiary education; and welcome the presence of quality foreign institutions.
The ID believes it is only through education that South Africa can uplift and equip itself with the necessary skills and knowledge to compete globally. It believes the government must provide quality education to the level of matric for all children. The ID will, among other actions, look at the funding of schools, believing in principle that no school should have to impose school fees in order to meet basic costs. It will provide for a child education grant to poor households for the costs of stationery, books and school transport. The ID will undertake curriculum reform and promote a system of getting back to basics. It will tackle the teacher supply problem by offering teachers economic benefits and incentives, including a sabbatical year, thus making the profession attractive. On tertiary education, the ID will increase the number of
further education and training institutes in order to equip young South Africans with technical skills needed for the economy.
Inkatha Freedom Party
The IFP will ensure that a quarter of the annual Budget that education consumes is put to good use by: supporting the underperforming schools, giving specific attention to the strengthening of provincial education departments at district level; placing greater emphasis on the provision of learner support materials in underprivileged schools; promoting a culture of human rights among educators and punishing those teachers who harm children; lessening schools’ dependence on the state by training school governing bodies; making sure that the state does not victimise former Model C schools by curtailing the powers of their school governing bodies; expediting the hiring of more teachers in light of the effect HIV/Aids will have on the teaching profession; and developing an urgent action plan in order to ensure that other countries do not poach newly qualified South African teachers.
New National Party
The NNP believes everyone deserves access to quality education. The NNP will ensure enough funds to maintain standards, especially for the combined institutions of higher learning, and quality education for poor children by continuously evaluating poverty index and funding models to keep up with demographic shifts and the changing income profile of parents. It will protect mother language education and introduce more posts for parallel-medium schools; make sure only those who pass, pass and will develop an additional performance measurement instrument for application in grades 3, 7 and 9; give maximum power to parents and governing bodies on important issues such as language and religion; will investigate the efficacy of OBE to ensure that teachers get the necessary support from authorities and that learners benefit; and compare input costs in education to achievements so that there is a value-for-money education system. The party will institute a continuous performance audit of the system, where provincial and the national departments’ outcomes are compared to input costs.
Pan Africanist Congress
The PAC will establish free, compulsory, quality education and training up to tertiary level. It will prioritise disadvantaged African schools with regard to curriculum and budgetary allocation. It will implement an education system whose curriculum will focus on skills; improve all education infrastructures to bring them to the highest level of quality; and provide quality learning materials that reflect the lives of Africans and have relevance in day-to-day economic activities. It will reduce teacher-learner ration to 28 learners per teacher, especially in township and rural schools, to ensure delivery of quality education. The PAC will equip disadvantaged African schools with appropriate technology to bring them to the level of advanced schools and will fully integrate all schools to equalise the quality of education.
United Democratic Movement
The UDM will establish a spirit of excellence in education. The party supports free public education up to Grade 12. It will give more assistance to learners who do subjects like engineering, as this will contribute to the economy of the country. The UDM will develop and maintain an education system that produces citizens with balanced job and life skills. Emphasis will be placed on discipline to promote learning. The party will improve human resources by giving teachers intensive in-service training and paying them well. It will manage human resources, improve the
physical infrastructure by spending money on development and maintenance and ensure timely delivery of teaching materials and resources to every school. HIV/Aids education and awareness will be compulsory in all curricula. The party will also ensure that all education institutions promote a culture of continuous learning.