Motshekga gives herself an 8 out of 10

Katharine Child

WHILE the country’s education system lurches in a crisis, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga believes she deserves an almost perfect score on her annual performance.

Speaking at the launch of a private initiative to show science and maths videos at cinemas to help 100000 Grade 12s, Motshekga was pushed by the media to rate her performance.

Motshekga said she had done “many things well”.

“I would give myself an 8.”

Motshekga said she should be judged on policy she had introduced in her three-year term in office and not on the department’s current problems.

“I don’t deliver workbooks. I am not in the classroom. I don’t know what 12 million learners are doing,” she said.

Pushed to explain where she had succeeded as minister, she said she had implemented the new Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (Caps) system for grades 1 to 3 this year and Grade 10s.

She was also proud of delivering 88 million workbooks to pupils across the country.

Caps is a more prescriptive curriculum than the controversial Outcomes Based Education curriculum that it replaces, and it aims to reduce teachers’ admin work and focus more on teaching.

Motshekga’s department, however, is facing huge challenges as several court cases have been brought against it by education NGOs and several commentators have called the situation a crisis.

In May, she was taken to the high court by rights organisation Section 27 to force the delivery of books to schools in Limpopo by June 15.

Judge Jody Kollapen said in his judgment the department had violated the constitution.

The department asked for an extension for the delivery of books to July 27, but the situation has been dragging on, with textbooks found dumped in four sites in the province.

As a result, the DA opened four criminal cases against the Limpopo department yesterday.

Three task teams are investigating the textbook saga in Limpopo, one headed by education specialist Mary Metcalfe and another appointed by President Jacob Zuma.

Yesterday, the department also asked for a postponement in a case brought to the Grahamstown High Court by the Legal Resources Centre for failing to fill 3200 vacant teachers’ posts in the Eastern Cape.

Motshekga said she could not comment on the saga until the investigations were complete.

DA education spokesman Annette Lovemore said the Eastern Cape Education Department, which is under administration, was R19.6- million in arrears with salaries.

In a separate case, NGO Equal Education – whose members marched in Tembisa on the East Rand to demand better education yesterday – has taken Motshekga to court for failing to determine minimum norms and standards for schools, arguing all schools should have a basic level of infrastructure.

Papers were filed in March and after the minister was granted four postponements, she responded last week. The case is set to be heard in November, according to Equal Education’s Doron Isaacs.

“Despite the minister not denying the facts of our case, she has decided to continue with business as usual,” Isaacs said.

“She insists it is not necessary to set a standard for school infrastructure. She insists that a guideline is enough, and that each province should attend to the problems according to their unique situation.”

Motshekga said yesterday she did not know the details of the court cases and could not comment.

Additional reporting by Sapa

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