During his reply to the state of the nation address, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said one of the difficult tasks that President Cyril Ramaphosa must deal with is fixing a broken education system that is ravaged by a “militant” union.
“Our president has inherited a broken education system in which, in fact, militant union interests are placed before the interests of our children,” Maimane said in parliament today.
He said the task of repairing the country and putting South Africa on the right begins with education.
“We have to acknowledge that our education system is in fact in crisis. It is not possible to read, quiet painfully so, that in fact in the latest global tests four out of five of our boys and girls cannot read with meaning by the end of grade 3,” Maimane said.
He said these results are evidence that the country has failed to give its young people the future that they deserve.
“We can talk about the fourth industrial revolution but we must prepare them [children] for the revolution that is going on now,” he said.
The leader of the opposition said learners in the poorest schools cannot compete with their peers in the well-off schools which he said reinforces inequality in the country.
“There is no single reason for the failure of our education system but if we want to be honest, we must acknowledge the role of SADTU in it,” he said.
Maimane said Minister Angie Motshekga’s ministerial task team found that six out of the nine provincial education departments have been captured by the union’s bosses and that in those provinces education is failing because of the union’s “toxic influences”.
“Mr President, your first choice is to end state capture by SADTU, the same powerful and militant union that helped you rise to the presidency of the ANC,” he said.
He added that the president has also inherited an economy which fails to create employment opportunities for millions of young South Africans.
“He has inherited a corrupt state that has been captured to serve the interests of a few at the expense of the many, and he has inherited a governing party that is deeply divided, severely limiting his room to manoeuvre.”
Maimane welcomed Ramaphosa’s plan to create internships and opportunities for young people to gain on the job experience, adding that a year of service in the health, education and policing sector by young people would contribute positively as well.