THE need for quality education in South Africa is acknowledged by all. The achievement of quality education is the tough part. But achieved it must be.
Providing children with an internationally-benchmarked education is the only way to redress past injustices, to break the cycle of poverty and to have any chance of sustaining our economy going forward.
The DA is intrigued that President Zuma has called for teaching to be treated as an essential service. He has been backed by Gwede Mantashe saying, "[education] must be treated as an essential service in terms of our behaviour and how we relate to it".
We (the DA) have been at the forefront of this approach, and will continue to push for the right of teachers to strike to be subject to limitations such that learning is not negatively affected.
But exactly how seriously can we take this call by the president? He has just emerged from Mangaung, where he renewed his commitment to the tripartite alliance. Will he really take action that will anger the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU), with its 240000 members? We doubt it.
Perhaps Zuma would care to explain, for example, why no action has ever been taken against those SADTU members who participated in the go-slow in the Eastern Cape during the first quarter of the 2012 academic year. He has no explanation, and nothing will change.
We will support the call. But, coming from the ANC, we know that it is a red herring, deflecting attention from the structural problems that must be addressed to ensure quality education. The focus must be on the real issues that are precluding the provision of quality education, starting with a serious commitment to accountability linked to pupil outcomes at every possible level.
Annette Lovemore MP, DA Shadow Minister: Basic Education