IFP backs Zuma on teacher training colleges

African National Congress president Jacob Zuma criticism of the closure of teacher training colleges in the mid-1990s received backing from the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) on Tuesday.

IFP education spokesperson Alfred Mpontshane urged Education Minister Naledi Pandor “to urgently consider the reopening of teacher training colleges”.

“It is now clear that we are reaping the rewards of the ANC’s dismal education policies, which have caused the education system in South Africa to plunge into a state of revolving crisis,” he said in a statement. “Even the ANC president, Mr Jacob Zuma, acknowledged this recently when he called for teacher training colleges to be reopened.”

Zuma said on Friday it was a mistake to close down teacher training colleges. He was speaking at the launch of the KwaZulu-Natal Institute of Local Government and Traditional Leadership fund-raising summit in Richards Bay.

“I was amazed when the colleges were closed down,” he said.
“The aim was good but the decision was based on theory. The practicality of it wasn’t checked properly.”

Zuma said former education minister Kader Asmal was behind the closures. “Asmal is a man who believes he knows everything. What he did was worse than what the apartheid regime did to our education system,” he said.

Mpontshane said the IFP had argued then (in the mid-1990s) “that the ANC’s desire to destroy what it wrongly regarded as apartheid creations should not blind them to the education realities facing South Africa”.

He said the shortage of teachers has been exacerbated by the HIV/Aids pandemic.

In KwaZulu-Natal alone, 10 teacher training colleges had been closed down, Mpontshane said.—Sapa

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