Cosatu to hold media conference on challenges faced by the W Cape Education Department

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) plans to hold a media conference on Monday regarding the challenges the Western Cape Education Department is facing.

Western Cape Education Minister, Debbie Shäfer, has reacted to the news by calling on the labour federation and its partners to denounce the national government’s defunding of education.

Shäfer says she is pleased that Cosatu and its associates understand that there are challenges facing them.

“We cannot continue to provide a quality education to every learner in this province without the money to pay for it. While the Western Cape prioritises education during our budgeting processes, every department will suffer when the national government demands massive cuts to the provincial share, no matter how important the services they deliver are. If these organisations are genuinely serious about solving the challenges we face, they will join us in demanding that national government prioritise the education of our children, over the continued looting of State-Owned Enterprises.”

Meanwhile, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) academic, Professor Thabo Msibi, says the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated what was already a crisis in education at schools. Msibi says research in recent years shows that about 60% of children in grade 1 will not make it to matric.

Msibi, who is Dean of Education at UKZN, says COVID 19 has shone a harsh light on the education crisis and the disproportionate effects on poorer families. Prof Msibi says poverty has a direct effect on a learner’s ability to attend school and COVID-19 has amplified this reality.

Msibi’s remarks come amid the Department of Basic Education’s concern about the number of matric learners who’ve dropped out of school this year.

Just last month the Department told parliament that its projections are that over 52 000 learners in Grade 7  and over 23 000 matriculants would not return to class.

It emerged that about 18% of all Gauteng learners, from Grades 1 to matric, have not gone back to school after several COVID-19 related disruptions to schooling.