Bosa calls for basic education minister to account for low standards

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: Jason Boud

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: Jason Boud

Published Jan 17, 2024


Build One SA (Bosa) is calling for Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to step down for what the party has termed “dismal” basic education standards.

This week, the country’s education quality assurance body, Umalusi, approved the release of the 2023 National Senior Certificate (NSC) exam results.

The approval was announced by Umalusi council chairperson Professor Yunus Ballim during a media briefing on Monday which revealed that more than 890 000 full-time and part-time candidates sat for the matric exams administered by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in 2023.

The official announcement of the results will take place on Friday, with the minister expected to pronounce on them then.

However, Bosa spokesperson Roger Solomons said the standards in basic education remain dismal while Umalusi “remains silent on the elephant in the room – Angie Motshekga”.

“Build One South Africa (Bosa) notes Monday’s press briefing by Umalusi approving the 2023 matric exams ahead of the release of the results later this week.

“While Umalusi highlighted occurrences of learner cheating, exam printing errors and translation inconsistencies, they remained silent on the elephant in the room – that the standards of basic education remain dismal as Angie Motshekga continues in her 15th consecutive year as minister of basic education,” Solomons said in a statement.

According to Bosa, South Africa’s literacy and comprehension levels continue to suffer while the department fails to come up with solutions to counter these poor levels.

“Today, eight out of every 10 children in South Africa cannot read for meaning by the age of 10. According to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), 78% of Grade 4 learners in South Africa cannot read for meaning,” Solomons said.

He said these poor statistics were part of the department’s diagnostics report and should have been acted upon to prevent this calamity.

“The Department of Basic Education’s own diagnostics report shows that the overwhelming majority of students who take crucial subjects in matric attain less than 50% in those subjects. The report’s data shows that over the past six-year period (2015 to 2020), a concerningly small percentage of students who wrote the matric exams achieved 50% or higher in crucial subjects,” he said.

Some of the areas of concern include maths (21.3%), physical science (27.1%), accounting (28.8%), life sciences (29.6%), economics (20.7%) and business studies (28.4%).

“Two out of 10 learners drop out of school after Grade 3, four out of 10 after Grade 9, six out of 10 after Grade 10 and 7.3 after Grade 11. The under-performance of the government in addressing this widens the inequality gap in society and undermines the future of millions of young people.

“These results affect the market – they affect the unemployment crisis. It is common cause that levels of education impact one’s employment prospects. According to the past four quarterly labour force surveys (QLFS), the highest percentages of unemployment are observed in sections of the labour force with less than a matric school leaving certificate at 39.1%,” he said.

Bosa believes that despite being allocated the biggest slice of the country’s fiscus, the basic education minister is unable to effect positive change in line with the allocation of resources to her department, which is why it is calling for the minister to step down.

“Minister Motshekga manages one of the largest budgets in the country of R280 billion and this is significantly more than neighbouring countries spend. We are not getting value for money. Her rank failure cannot continue any longer.

“We call for her immediate resignation and replacement with someone who believes in the talent of our youth, and who does the work to make this country globally competitive,” Solomons said.

However, the minister during a briefing on 702 on Monday said South Africa benchmarked itself with the best in the world, adding that the quality of South Africa’s education competed well in the world, even though there was room for improvement.

“We benchmark ourselves against the best systems. For instance, our NSC was benchmarked against international exam systems and we sat relatively well. There were areas where we were advised to improve, perhaps reduce the number of topics we teach so that we go deeper,” she said.

The Star