EDITORIAL | Competent, diligent teachers essential

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Imagine a country where teachers and pupils attend school every single weekday. Where the school infrastructure is world class, and the education system is designed to produce developers, innovators and world leaders.That country could be ours, but generations of oppression, bad spatial planning, corruption and budgetary constraints makes it near impossible to ever achieve. Add to that a systematic problem of a shortage of teachers and, even worse, teachers who bunk school – and our young people are set up to fail.A shocking report released by basic education minister Angie Motshekga on Monday states that there are 6,483 Eastern Cape teachers bunking school every day out of a staff complement of about 54,000.The Eastern Cape was the second highest figure, with the Northern Cape topping the list.The report is reflective of a culture in our country, particularly in government, of a lack of accountability.There was no accompanying data explaining the root cause of this, with Motshekga saying the department needs to “understand this leave of absence phenomenon”.While we may not know why our teachers are bunking school, we know only too well the long-term impact this has. SA has a massive skills crisis.Barring exceptional pupils who have defied the odds and gone on to do great things in the world, we have a country where tragically, many young people are barely literate, let alone possess learning and comprehension skills to function optimally in a fast developing and innovative world.How then can we expect to have a nation that goes out and develops technology to even begin competing at an international level?And it all starts in the classrooms and inculcating a culture of learning.It is about teachers showing up, challenging pupils to think critically and logically.It is about creating a crop of future leaders who are able to compete in a developing world.

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