Maimane urges government to invest more in primary school education

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One South Africa Chief Activist Mmusi Maimane has urged government to invest its largest resources in primary school education.

As the country prepares for the announcement of the 2021 matric results, Maimane says South Africa needs to get the basics right. He has also urged government to invest in subjects that prepare children for the digital world.

In order to address the apartheid education legacy, the government needs to ensure that children are taught subjects that will prepare them for the economy of the future. Maimane says among others, Life Orientation as a subject should be replaced with subjects that teach critical thinking.

“The first number of years of any learner is the most fundamental. Higher Education, high school, can never correct what isn’t done in primary school. If we are going to win the battle for an education that works for all South Africans, let us overly invest in primary schooling. Let’s invert the pyramid. And make sure by the time young people reach the age of 10, they can read, they can do literacy at a competent level. For if we don’t achieve that, we can forget about the rest of their schooling career,” Maimane suggests.

Maimane says the results that will be announced by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga represent a significantly reduced number of children who registered 12 years ago. One of the reasons, he argues, is that schools do not provide a safe environment for learners.

“It cannot be said that our schools become war zones and dangerous points. Our young people must go to school safe, knowing that they are protected…We give skills to young people that they can use,” Maimane adds.

‘Ensure quality education’ 

He says the government needs to build partnerships with the private sector to ensure quality education for poorer children. Maimane says poor children are still disadvantaged by a lack of proper education facilities. He says this forces parents, especially in townships, to send their children far from where they live.

“We have failed to develop educational infrastructure. We haven’t built enough schools. We haven’t built enough quality schools. No child wants to go to a school that’s got a pit latrine. Of course, naturally, they are going to want to move and go somewhere else. So we have to build proper infrastructure. I’ve always held the view that there must be a better partnership between government and the private sector to ensure that we can broaden the number of schools that are available. We can give better access to young people and we can ensure that parents can apply at those schools easily.”

Maimane has also called for the salaries of well-performing teachers to be raised so that they can be retained in the system. He says teaching cannot be a profession of last resort.

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