Move to improve education

PARLIAMENT'S portfolio committee on higher education and training is looking at formulating a "30-year strategy" to improve the quality of education and the skills of young people in South Africa.

PARLIAMENT'S portfolio committee on higher education and training is looking at formulating a "30-year strategy" to improve the quality of education and the skills of young people in South Africa.

"We do not need to have a mediocre approach to solving big problems," said committee chairperson Marius Fransman after a presentation by the Development Bank of Southern Africa.

The committee invited the bank to brief it on the work it had done looking at what is wrong with the education system of the country.

Graeme Bloch, an education specialist at the bank, told the committee that it would take at least two years a grade to correct problems in the education system.

Fransman said the bank's analysis confirmed their "serious concern that education in South Africa is riddled with huge inequalities".

A study conducted in Western Cape found that 62,5percent of Grade 3s in former white schools could read and count at appropriate levels while the corresponding figure in African townships was 0,1percent.

It was also found that teachers in township schools spend 3,5 hours a day on instruction, compared with six hours a day in suburban schools.

"We are alarmed by the fact that many students are not able to go through with their education. Thousands enter the system but many are lost in the system," Fransman said.

He said they were also concerned about the perception that children who are troublesome at school needed to be sent to Further Education and Training colleges.

"This misconception needs to change. We will speak to the Ministry of Basic Education to capacitate teachers to understand the importance of FET colleges," he said.

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