Don't prevent children from attending school: Minister Motshekga appeals

JANUARY 29, 2016

Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, on Friday appealed to parents to stop a rapidly increasing trend where they bar their children from attending school as a form of protest.

The appeal comes when some schools in Port Elizabeth's Northern Areas have not been open for two weeks owing to an ongoing school shutdown as local parents demand the Eastern Cape Department of Education address teacher shortages as well as other education-related issues in the area.

“I really want to take this opportunity to appeal to communities in different parts of the country because there is a new phenomenon that is fashionable. If you don’t have your way, if you want a new school, you keep your kid at home,” Motshekga told journalists in Pretoria, while briefing the media the high-level Council of Education Ministers (CEM) meeting held on Thursday.

“I get calls even from parents in Hammanskraal to say, ‘Minister, we are keeping our kids until you give us a new school.’ Out of respect I say, ‘Please bring them’, but deep down I want to say: ‘Keep your child and bring them when you’re ready.’ That is not helpful because it is the kids who are compromised.”

The Minister said while there many challenges in education, parents should not use their children to hold government “at ransom”.

“That conduct is detrimental and affects learning and teaching. If we lose more time with pupils. it will be very difficult to recover. This is really a humble appeal to parents. Let us solve our problems without compromising that which we can’t salvage, which is time,” said Motshekga.

Motshekga said the 2016 school year has started off “very well but with a few glitches”.

“In the main the challenges have related to dealing with the movement of pupils across the country and within provinces. All provinces started well and have built adequate capacity to deal with the greatest challenge of late admissions. Gauteng has made great strides to ensure that all pupils who were not placed are allocated spaces in our schools,” she said.

“The national department monitors school readiness very closely. A total of 803 schools were visited before schools closed for December holidays and and a further 799 were visited after schools reopened in January.”

Motshekga said supplementary matric examinations will start on February 10 and continue until March 17.

“We have 82,743 candidates who have registered for the supplementary exams. The Eastern Cape has the highest enrolment at 22,268. Limpopo has 17,000, while Gauteng has 10,000. KwaZulu-Natal has 8,600 candidates registered to sit for the exams. We urge those who will be writing to prepare sufficiently to ensure they succeed this time,” said Motshekga.

She said changes to the supplementary examinations are in the pipeline. 

"We are planning to change the supplementary exams because they are too early and the pass rates are too low. From 2017, they will be writing in June. We are introducing a new exam for all people – repeaters and those writing supplementary exams. We won’t have supplementary exams in February – it’s too early,” she said.

---additional reporting Africa News Agency