Education Policy

“Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation.” – Nelson Mandela

Education is a constitutional right, a basic human right, a strategic priority and the best possible vehicle to empower South Africans and to develop our country.

In the global knowledge economy success depends on quality education. Those with a quality education can fulfil their potential. Those without it are destined to remain excluded from opportunities and dependent on the state to survive.

This policy details our offer on education for jobs.

Quality education is the key to improved quality of life. It empowers individuals to obtain a fulfilling job, contribute to the economy and utilise their talents to the full.

Education is already an important national priority. In the 2012-2013 financial year we spent R218 billion, approximately one-fifth (19.6%) of our national budget, on education.

The return on investment on the other hand has been unsatisfactory. While we have improved access to education, with the number of learners writing matric increasing from 109 807 in 1980 to 511 152 full time candidates in 2012, we have not improved the quality of outcomes.

International assessments highlight the problems in our education system. The 2012 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) report ranks South Africa third last of the 63 countries and 14 participating benchmark countries for mathematics. The 2012 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) placed South Africa fourth last of the 49 countries and 9 benchmark countries for literacy.

Increasing pass rates for the National Senior Certificate (NSC) belie the true state of affairs in our education system. Of the 1 130 659 learners who registered for Grade 1 in 2001, 619 507 dropped out of the school system. Based on these figures, the “real” pass rate for 2012 was not the 73.9% proudly proclaimed by the ANC government, but a troubling 37.5%.

In 2012, 26.6% of candidates achieved bachelor passes; the real bachelor pass rate was a meagre 9.97%. This means that only 1 in 10 students who began schooling in 2001 had the option to go to university.
A growing lack of faith in the public education system is indicated by an almost tripling of the number of registered independent schools from 565 in 1995 to 1 571 in 2012.

It is clear that many schools in South Africa are not able to offer learners the opportunity to fulfil their ambitions.

South Africa’s ability to promote inclusive growth depends on producing successive generations of well-educated young people contributing to socio-economic development. A South African society with a large, well-educated population will overcome more easily the many obstacles to social and economic equality experienced by the majority of households. (Financial and Fiscal Commission, 20121)

While spending money on education is important, it is not enough. It is what is taught, how it is taught and how the system is managed that matter.

The DA’s education policy is focused on instilling quality, accountability and strong leadership into the system. In national government we will have a sustained, focused and systematic approach to improving education. Educational budgets, policies and operational decisions will consistently be subjected to the simple litmus test of whether each will improve the educational value in South African classrooms.

We believe that only quality education will allow us to deliver on our vision of opportunities for all. A national DA government will work with provincial education departments, seeking to ensure:

  • That every child has an opportunity to learn in a safe, supportive environment.
  • That our children emerge from school having mastered the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy at internationally benchmarked levels, with their education having emphasised information literacy to prepare them for the modern economy.
  • That our children are nurtured to become well-rounded citizens who have the discipline, work-ethic and courage to use their skills and talent to pursue their dreams.
  • That our youth are inspired to contribute to the success of our country, to reach out to fellow South Africans as nation builders, to grow the economy through entrepreneurship and to tackle our social challenges.

The state, in constructive partnership with private enterprise, civil society, teachers and parents, must provide the opportunities for all to fulfil their potential. To improve education outcomes, our focus will be on:

  • establishing an enabling regulatory environment for educational excellence;
  • improving school management and teacher quality;
  • promoting accountability through appropriate assessment of (i) academic performance and, (ii) adherence to the principles of good governance;
    rewarding good management, teacher and learner performance;
  • aligning education outcomes with the world of work by regularly reviewing the curriculum to ensure that it equips learners for participation in a competitive, global knowledge economy; and
  • creating a school environment that is conducive to learning.