Lack of access to quality education and training does more than impoverish the intellectual life of an individual, it reduces an individual’s ability to make a decent and sustainable living. It impacts negatively on the ability of a nation to achieve its developmental objectives and ensure its economic sustainability. The nature and quality of the education received by a country’s citizens determine whether that country will develop an economy geared for the needs of the 21st century and whether the country’s workforce will be able to perform in high tech jobs.
Research conducted by a team from Stellenbosch University found that “the [South African] education system generally produces outcomes that reinforce current patterns of poverty and privilege instead of challenging them.” Critically, the research found, that amongst others, in terms of education outcomes “the legacy of apartheid appears to have endured”[i].
It is no wonder the legacy of apartheid endures when, both National and Provincial Departments of Education fail to deliver textbooks to children of Black people. What is tragic is that the Minister of Basic Education takes no responsibility for such blatant failures.Do we need to find reasons anywhere else but in the current government when South Africa is ranked third last out of 63 countries that participated in the 2012 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. The governing party continually takes decisions that further serve to disempower and disadvantage the very people it claims to be serving.
To safeguard a generation of children from poor and working class communities, from the ineptitude and blatant disregard of their future, and to secure a future deriving benefit from innovative technologies and ideas generated by products of our education system, AZAPO will:
- Prioritise education as a tool for the full realization of our being and as an economic necessity that will ensure sustainable growth of our economy.
- Provide free and compulsory education up to grade 12
- Re-unite the ministries of basic education and higher education and training. Education is too important to be put into silos. We believe one Minister and ministry must own the entire education value chain beginning at early childhood education up to tertiary education.
- Ensure development of Indigenous languages to the level where they can address important issues in commerce, science and technology. .
- Guarantee that every learner is taught in his or her mother tongue at foundation phases
- Provide learners and students with necessary and relevant tools to facilitate their optimal learning.
- Ensure all schools are provided, as a matter of course, with water, electricity, toilets, libraries, computer training facilities, laboratories, sporting facilities and other recreational facilities.
- Work to improve the status of teachers and the teaching profession. More young people will be encouraged to take up teaching as a career that builds a nation. Emphasis will be placed on developing and recruiting people who can teach mathematics and sciences. While teaching of mathematics and science is import and will be prioritised, AZAPO holds the view that education is more than just developing cogs, it is about developing full human beings with a critical consciousness that arises out of studying subjects in the social stream.
- Develop educational curricula designed to serve the cultural, social, intellectual and industrial needs of the country to support its growth imperatives.
In the past 20 years the non-university further education space has been neglected and this has led to the deterioration of the status of FET Colleges. This has been due to a faulty over privileging of university education. However, as much as we need scientists, engineers and technicians, the country desperately needs artisans and people who are ready for the world of work and are able to create work. AZAPO will:
- Work to improve the status of FET colleges, and encourage more students to enroll
- Strengthen the institutional capacity of FETs and invest in the improvement of their infrastructure
- Expand the curriculum offering to range from agriculture, technology to commerce
- Invest in developing the capacity of lecturers at FET colleges
- Place special emphasis on vocational and technical education
- immediately make education at Further Education and Training Colleges free
Universities(technology and traditional) serve an important function in training and developing high end skills necessary for running and managing an economy of the 21st century, creating knowledge and advancing humanities knowledge bank, developing solution for challenges facing our country and for developing innovative product, service and industrial processes. These institutions face a number of challenges which range from only a third of permanent academic staff in public higher education institutions holding doctoral qualification (according to an ASSAf study) to poor infrastructure for accommodation of students. AZAPO will:
- Strengthen Universities of Technology and clearly position them in the higher education value chain
- Invest in the improvement and development of infrastructure at universities
- Restructure the tertiary institutional landscape in line with principles of equity and redress so as to improve access to higher education.
- Provide greater funding support for needy students
- Increase bursaries for post-graduates to encourage them to study up to PhD level
- Encourage and support development of academic staff so as to increase the number of potential PhD supervisors.
- Provide grants for overseas study for those candidates who can’t find supervisors in South Africa
- Work towards making education at universities free