Johannesburg – People must stop politicising education, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigabasaid on Monday.
“All of us have an important task of ensuring that we leave a legacy that ensures that the African child receives the best education standard possible,” Gigaba said.
“We therefore need to stop politicising education as the only political issue we need to be concerned about is the learner in the classroom.”
Gigaba visited two schools in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga as part of the 2012 back-to-school programme.
He said people should be concerned with instilling the culture of learning within the black community.
Earlier on Monday, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) condemned National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) chairperson Andile Lungisa’s comments that the unions were to blame for the crisis in the basic education system.
Lungisa reportedly said poor matric results, particularly in previously disadvantaged schools, could be linked to union activities.
“Education must be made an essential service. We must not use the strategies used in factories and industries for education,” Lungisa was quoted as saying.
“If we don’t deal with unions [in the education system] this country will not succeed and we will be sabotaging future generations.”
Cosatu said Lungisa’s comments were “unfortunate” and “baseless”.
“This ideological onslaught on teacher unions is premised on the false notion that organised teachers are selfishly concerned about themselves and could not care less about learners,” Cosatu said in a statement.
“This reasoning accords all the blame for our malfunctioning education system to teachers who are organised in unions.”
The Democratic Alliance Youth welcomed the call by the NYDA for education to be declared an essential service and for it to be de-unionised.
“South African children receive one of the worst standards of education in the world; a fact confirmed by a variety of studies,” the DA Youth said in a statement.
“There are many reasons for this, but it is certain that nothing can be done to improve the situation without first having all teachers in their classrooms for all the hours that their contracts require them to be there.”
It said that according to a study done by independent dispute resolution company Tokiso, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union was responsible for 42 percent of all workdays lost between 1995 and 2009.
“The consequences of attempting to obtain an education in this environment do indeed… create enormous inconvenience to the lives of learners.”