Introduction of GEC could cripple the school system

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga. The writer says the failure rate, repetition and dropout rate cannot be dealt with through degrading the education further.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga. The writer says the failure rate, repetition and dropout rate cannot be dealt with through degrading the education further.
Image: Department of basic education

"Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world," Nelson Mandela said.

SA, our beloved country, is where it is today because of the sacrifices many fallen and still living heroes made.

Even during the hard times of the atrocious apartheid regime, they fought while studying because they understood the value and importance of education.

That culture of learning has brought us many black graduates and an ever-increasing rate of registered students in various institutions of higher learning.

The gains of those fallen and living heroes and heroines could be rendered useless today if we shift the goal posts another inch, so to speak, by entertaining the widely reported proposal of the minister of basic education Angie Motshekga.

First it was the lowering of the pass mark to 30% and now she is considering grade 9 being the second school exit qualification with a General Education Certificate.

In an era where teachers fail grade 3 English, the minister had the gall to be quoted saying: "Dealing decisively with the quality and efficiency through the implementation of standardised assessments to reduce failure, repetition and dropout rates, we are also working on the introduction of multiple qualifications such as the General Education Certificate before the grade 12 exit qualification."

I understand the plan has always been there without formal implementation but it will have a negative impact on many things and will increase the number of people who still feel it's unnecessary to further their studies and acquire skills.

This move by the department will have a negative impact on the economic growth of SA in some way, when government needs to create a culture of learning among the youth.

There is no logic behind all her reasoning and certainly no justification in effectively "toying" around with the African child's education as they are the ones who bear the brunt of a practically dysfunctional curriculum.

If implemented, her proposal could potentially cripple the school system and further exacerbate the problems of unemployment that we are already struggling with in the country.

Surely, one would be forgiven for wondering if the minister isn't somehow dictating to everyone at basic education department on matters of national importance or maybe those who are supposed to be working with her are simply unqualified. How else would this lunacy get to this advanced stage?

Laziness, mediocrity and sheer incompetence must never be tolerated. Proper planning and execution must be the order of the day if we are to tackle all the challenges that are purported to have prompted the department to consider lowering the bar, as it were.

The failure rate, repetition and dropout rate cannot be dealt with through degrading our education to that level.

If Madam Motshekga is tired or feeling the heat in the kitchen, she must just excuse herself from that office and allow young and still relevant MECs of education like those ones from the Free State and Gauteng to take over.

I reject this plan and appeal to all South Africans to also join me in rejecting it, because to me is about the minister's interest of being seen as working hard to cut dropouts, failures and repetitions instead of looking to the future of the country.

*Legoale is an activist, an ANC Youth League member and a youth development practitioner. He wrote this piece in his personal capacity.

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