The Congress of South African Trade Unions congratulates all Grade 12 learners who passed their 2019 final examinations. We commiserate with all those who failed and urge them not to give up but to try again in 2020. The federation is pleased that the national pass rate has seen a modest improvement by 3.1% from 78.2% in 2018 to 81.3% for the class of 2019.
The credit for this improvement must go to the learners and teachers. We salute all teachers, especially our affiliated union SADTU for a job well-done. These results must encourage the teacher’s unions, parents and civil society to work together with government to improve not just the quantity but also the quality of the results for this year.
These results though still reflect the inequality that is prevalent in our society. There is a need to do away with two-tier education system, that allows the rich, mostly white, to buy their kids the best education; while the poor majority struggles with lack of libraries, books, laboratories or computers. Government should work to improve the infrastructure in schools – particularly rural schools.
We reiterate our call for all teachers to be permanently employed and be paid decent salaries. There is also an urgent need for all education stakeholders to work together to improve the governance of the school system. Collectively, we should all work to do away with the type of vandalism that has seen the torching of schools and libraries during community protests and the stealing of learning equipment in mainly township and rural schools. The Basic Education department needs to decisively deal with the missed sanitation targets, infrastructure under expenditure, safety at schools and increasing teacher-learner ratios.
The destruction of schools is not only a criminal act but also a gross betrayal of young people who are hungry for education. The communities across the country should declare war on those who are destroying schools and other infrastructure during protests.
COSATU is hoping that government will ensure that all learners who wish to pursue higher education will be accommodated and given all the necessary resources ,in line with the Freedom Charter that says; “higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit”. The South African Constitution says that “everyone has the right to further education, which the state, through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible.”
In addition, the ANC committed itself to expand the TVET sector, to provide greater support for students in order to ensure that “the intake of students for post-school education is massively expanded over the next five years, with the aim of enrolling the majority of youth aged 18-23, especially in FET colleges.” Skills development through the post-schooling system is very critical for the creation of jobs and poverty reduction, since the employment rate for those with a post-matric qualification ranges between 81%-89% whereas employment rates for those with only matric qualification is around 55%.
All ANC Conferences since the Polokwane Conference saw the development and expansion of the TVET sector as key to industrialisation and decent job-creation. It is unfortunate that over the past couple of years massive amounts of resources have been redirected away from other key channels of skills development and training such as the National Skills Fund, SETAs and the TVET sector to the universities, especially to the more research and academically oriented historically white universities.
One of the greatest challenges to growing the economy and placing workers in jobs is that our education and skills system is not geared towards the needs of the economy. It is clear that even if there were to be an upswing in economic activity the absolute shortage of skilled and semi-skilled labour would stand in the way of a major leap forward. What remains more troubling is that the last Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement contained no proposals or plans by government in this regard, instead, there was a cut in SETA funding.
The government has no plan to grapple with the 4IR despite estimates showing that 56% of jobs are at risk due to the 4IR and automation. This means that drastic steps are needed to ensure that our Grade 12 learners do not acquire redundant skills that will only worsen unemployment.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 679