THE Department of Basic Education this week said it was "unlikely" to meet its target of improving the quality of education by 2014.
One of the department’s goals with its "education for all" campaign, was to "improve all aspects of the quality of education and ensure excellence for all" within two years.
SA’s education system has been under the spotlight recently, particularly after the Limpopo textbook debacle. Despite government spending liberally on education, SA ranked 133rd out of 142 countries in terms of the "quality of its educational system" in the World Economic Forum’s 2011-12 World Competitiveness Report released this month.
Rights organisation Section27 earlier this year called on the Cabinet to admit there was a crisis in SA’s education system and treat it in the same way as it had dealt with the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Updating members of Parliament’s basic education portfolio committee on progress made in achieving the programme’s goals, the department on Tuesday said it was "unlikely" to achieve goal six — "(to) improve all aspects of quality of education and ensuring excellence for all so that recognised and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills".
Chief director Carol Nuga-Deliwe said: "The government and people of SA are far from satisfied with the level of performance of the education system, especially the quality of services offered to the poorest and most vulnerable members of society."
The department said some of the challenges the education sector was facing included poor teacher attendance, poor preparation and poor curriculum coverage. These all harmed performance.
The department said it would have to institutionalise mechanisms for monitoring teacher attendance, curriculum coverage and district support to schools.
Also, the effectiveness of teacher development would have to be improved, Ms Nuga-Deliwe said.
"In terms of access to basic education, SA has done well.
"However, in terms of access to meaningful education with quality outcomes SA has done poorly.... As a result, improving education services and raising the standards of teachers’ and learners’ performance are among the highest priorities of the department and the government," Ms Nuga-Deliwe said.
Democratic Alliance MP Annette Lovemore said that quality education was unlikely to be achieved, largely because there was a lack of accountability in the system from the level of teachers right up to that of the department.
Earlier this year Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the department aimed to introduce a new teacher performance appraisal system next year, after an agreement had been reached with the unions.
However, the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union said it would reject performance contracts for teachers and principals, as it felt that existing regulations were sufficient.