Sona should indicate government’s commitment to education
Distance Education Provider, Brainline, has expressed the hope that President Cyril Ramaphosa will use his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday, 13 February 2020, to showcase government’s commitment to tackle pressing challenges within the country’s educational sphere. Brainline Chief Executive, Coleen Cronje, says improving education is one of government’s priority areas.
‘It is essential that the President convince the public that South Africa’s education is in good hands. Last year during his SONA address, Mr Ramaphosa acknowledged that after 25 years, the country’s education system hadn’t turned the corner from deep dysfunctionality to sustained success. At the time he failed to elaborate on a strategy to map the way forward to address this challenge and one would hope that a more detailed plan would be put forward 12 months down the line,’ Cronje says.
Cronje says while the President spoke at length about government’s commitment to infrastructural backlogs, such as toilets, it is important to focus on elements that will assist in improving educational outcomes. Government has set itself the task of delivering on better educational outcomes in government-run schools within the next 10 years. However, Cronje says the current education system is not geared for the needs of the economy nor to produce enough matriculants and graduates.
‘While there has been an increase in the matric pass rate with the Independent Examination Board (IEB) achieving 98.82% and Basic Education Department Class of 2019 scoring a 81.3% pass rate, half our children fail to matriculate, schools remain overcrowded and learners have to contend with below par facilities.’
Cronje has pointed out that the President would be hard pressed to give feedback on government’s goal of ensuring that every 10-year-old would be able to read. Statistics show that 78% of 10-year olds in South Africa cannot read with comprehension. (https://www.iol.co.za/pretoria-news/sas-child-illiteracy-time-bomb-12427420)
‘There is growing recognition that the problems we face cannot be shouldered by government alone, and the crisis in education requires socio-economic partners such as business to lead the shift from this dispensation. After all, business is on the receiving end of young adults who have been let down by an education system which was meant to adequately prepare them for the working world.’
Cronje says last year there was great excitement about the President’s announcement of the roll-out of e-tablets for all school children. She says while Brainline is in support of technology-based education, it is important to get the basics right.
‘Technology is a merely a tool for teaching and learning. If the teaching and learning experience is poor for a variety of reasons, access to a tablet will make no difference. Pupils need to learn the basic skills of numeracy and literacy which is still not properly taught before incorporating e-tablets into the curriculum.’
Brainline is a leader in home education and has provided structured home education on a distance education model to thousands of learners since 1990.
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