Newspaper clipping – The Mercury – 6 March 2009

Ministry of schools on the cards

Plans to split the Education Department into two – one focusing on schooling, the other on higher education – are at an advanced stage, African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe has said.

He told members of the Progressive Business Forum in Cape Town that the ANC would finalise the plan in two weeks. The decision was a response to the crippling skills shortages the country faced, he said. A better education system would ensure that South Africa produced more skilled professionals in specialized areas like engineering.
            “There is a strong view in the ANC that we can’t go on with business as usual in education. We need a ministry to focus on the schooling system. We need that schooling system to improve sooner (rather) than later…so that higher education will become better.”

After April 22, the new president would have to appoint two ministers of education.

Mantashe criticized universities’ admission policies for excluding pupils who had not done well in matric. The country’s higher education institutions were not producing the scarce skills the country needed, he said.
            “If you look at the former black universities, not one of them has an engineering department. The education infrastructure generates a surplus of social scientists. The reality is that the education system must be such that it talks to the economic needs (of the country).”

Mantashe said the ANC was serious when it talked about the need for discipline among teachers as well as pupils. The new administration would not tolerate teachers who left before the end of the school day to attend to social and personal needs.