News / South Africa

Virginia Keppler
2 minute read
2 May 2017
7:25 am

Education plays critical role in deepening democracy, says Gordhan

Virginia Keppler

Programme to train unemployed youth as teachers sees 776 graduate.

Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan. File Picture: Refilwe Modise

Speaking at the Sants Private Higher Education Institution graduation ceremony on Saturday at the Durban International Convention Centre, former finance minister Pravin Gordhan congratulated the 776 student teachers who graduated with bachelor of education in foundation phase teaching and bachelor of education in intermediate phase teaching degrees.

The KwaZulu-Natal department of education and Sants in 2012 headed an initiative to give unemployed youth from rural areas of the province an opportunity to pursue a career in teaching.

“We live in a country that has huge possibilities for all of us. It’s a country where education can play an absolutely critical role in deepening democracy, in making sure that all of us have a say in the way in which our country is run and the way in which democracy is established,” said Gordhan.

“Education will also play a key part in making sure that … our economy is not just controlled by a few people. We must transform our economy so that there is less inequality and less poverty and greater ownership amongst all of our people,” he said.

“Like the rest of the world, we face challenges of how we liberate our economy from the capture of a few individuals and a few companies.

“Most important is that education has a critical role to play in ensuring that the economy and the development path that we follow is one that gives all of us an opportunity and not just the one present.”

Professor Jean Baxen, executive academic director of Sants, said the partnership between them and the education department started in 2013, when these graduates were recipients of bursaries.

Sants gave the students intensive support at nine student support centres in the five districts of KwaZulu-Natal. The programmes respond to the skills needed in the country. This is also articulated in the 2015 research report by the Centre for Development and Enterprise.

The report identified the need for 30 000 new teachers annually, between 2013 and 2030. It posits that the teacher shortage is particularly acute in the foundation phase, specifically teachers with an indigenous African language.

This is especially evident in rural and remote areas but particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, which has become known for having the most under- and unqualified teachers in South Africa.

– virginiak@citizen.co.za

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