Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle has warned there will be consequences for officials if the provincial Department of Education fails to improve on its matric pass rate for this year.
The department again recorded the lowest results in the country when it dropped from 65.4% in 2014 to 56.8% last year.
Masualle made the announcement at a media briefing on the state of education in the province held in Bhisho before the National Senior Certificate examinations which kick off in the country next week.
“We have demanded, I have demanded, from the Department of Education nothing below an improvement in what we had, and everything has to be done to show us moving up again,” Masualle said.
“I am not expecting a decline. I am expecting an improvement, and that is what I have asked for. If I do not get what I have asked for, someone will be dealt with.”
Provincial government spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said Masualle had already suspended a senior official responsible for R530-million of infrastructure grant money being returned to the national Treasury earlier this year after the department failed to spend it in the last financial year.
Masualle said while the department had made the necessary preparations for the exams, the pupils themselves would need to perform.
The provincial government was also concerned about the repercussions for matriculants next year if the crisis at universities was not resolved before the end of the academic year.
“It will lead to overcrowding or to universities accepting fewer learners,” Masualle said.
The provincial government would continue to provide bursaries and support the “missing middle” – which refers to students above the National Student Financial Aid Scheme threshold, but for whom university education is not affordable.
Masualle said the department would continue in its efforts to ensure a more streamlined operation by reducing the number of district departments and integrating more than 200 unviable schools.
School functionality was critical, he said, and the issue of one-teacher schools would be addressed during the department’s three-year plan to improve the state of education in the province.