Parents, not politicians, must run SA’s schools – IRR

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) said the report, titled "Parents, Not Politicians, Must Run South Africa’s Schools", formed part of the first edition of its FreeFACTS publication

“The report argues that the bulk of our state schools ‘are not in the main inferior because of a shortage of money. Many emerging markets spend less on education than South Africa, but produce much better results,” the IRR said.

“In South Africa’s case, however, ‘corruption, destructive trade unions, ideological dogma, and incompetent bureaucrats and politicians are responsible for the fact that only a small majority of children will be well educated’.”

The institute said its research showed that “when communities control schools, results improve”. It said the report marked the case for a constructive alternative, suggesting that “a short cut to much better education is to get bureaucrats out and let parents take over”.

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“The data in this report shows, among other things, that only 33 percent of matric candidates passed maths with a grade of 40 percent or higher, that just 29,2 percent of schools have a library, that only 18,3 percent of government schools have a science laboratory, and that only 13 percent of the 2006 Grade 1 class managed a university entry qualification when they wrote matric in 2017,” author of the report, IRR Campaign Manager Marius Roodt, said.

“This may be the future of your child if you don’t find an alternative outside of the government school system – but few people can afford private schools.”

The report noted, however, that alternative approaches capable of achieving the “short cut” to better education outcomes were feasible.

The IRR said schools should be sold to community groups, churches, non-profit organisations and private education providers for a nominal fee and let them run such schools within agreed guidelines.

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“We estimate that these vouchers will be sufficient to finance high-quality education for every child in the country. Parents can redeem these vouchers at any school of their choosing and top up the voucher with their own funds in the event that the school charges higher fees,” Roodt said.

“By giving parents the choice and buying power to decide on the education of their children they then have the power to control the curriculum, language policy, and ethos of the school they send their children to… It is not for the government and politicians to decide how to raise your child. That is for you to decide.”

The IRR said the report, which formed part of the inaugural edition of the FreeFACTS publication, coincided with the launch of the IRR’s Education Charter, which was an initiative to give South Africans the opportunity to endorse greater parental involvement in schools as a first step to rescuing the education system from the grave crisis it was in.

“It will urge them all to heed growing public anxiety about the state of education in South Africa, and to implement policies that give parents the greater control and influence over schools which, universally, have led to better results in the classroom,” the institute said.

– African News Agency