[lg policy] Education Charter will bring greater parental involvement in failing schools

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Tue May 22 16:52:06 EDT 2018

 Education Charter will bring greater parental involvement in failing
schools 1 day ago written by Grant Foster

An Education Charter to give South Africans the opportunity to endorse
greater parental involvement in schools as a first step to rescuing the
education system from its grave crisis has been launched by the Institute
of Race Relations (IRR).

The Charter is addressed to the politicians who are directly involved in
managing the country’s schooling system; the Minister of Basic Education,
the nine provincial education MECs and the Official Opposition’s Shadow
Minister of Basic Education and urge them all to heed growing public
anxiety about the state of education in South Africa.

According to the call made within the charter these role players should
implement policies that give parents greater control and influence over
schools which, universally, have led to better results in the classroom.

The creation of the charters is based on IRR research has show how
desperately South Africa needs this approach.

According to a media statement by the IRR, a measure “of our schooling
crisis is that, in the absence of a dramatic change in policy, a grade one
learner starting school this year will have only a 50% chance of making it
to grade 12, a less than even chance of finishing matric, and even lower
chance of passing well enough to go to university”.

A good maths pass in matric is a key marker of a young person’s chances of
making it into the middle classes – but our pass marks in mathematics are
dismal, the IRR argues.

“Only about 12% of matric learners pass with more than 60%. Worryingly,
most of these – nearly half – are in the better-resourced Quintile Five
schools, meaning that those in poorer schools (most of whom are black)
suffer disproportionately.

“This is to say nothing of South Africa’s poor performance in international
rankings – a recent study found that 80% of our grade fours are illiterate.
The consequence of all this is that most South African children are finding
themselves unprepared either for university or for the world of work. High
drop-out rates at university and high unemployment rates reflect this. A
minority of students manage to pass their degrees within three years and
more than half of people aged between 15 and 24 are unemployed. This is an
untenable situation which will have dire consequences for South Africa’s

The root of this crisis lies in poor South African schools, the think tank

South African schools are undermined by hostile unions whose actions
suggest they are more interested in protecting underperforming teachers
than in educating children, as well as by poor administration, and policy
that is often driven by ideology rather than the practical demands of
delivering effective education.

“Giving parents and communities control of schools will go some way to
addressing our education crisis.

Parents should be allowed to choose the ethos and curriculum of schools, as
well as have a say over staff appointments. Language policy – within reason
– should also be under the control of parents of learners at the school,
and of members of surrounding communities.

“This is the thrust of the Education Charter the IRR launches today as a
means of giving parents and community members the chance to express their
support for control of schools being given to them, rather than to
politicians and bureaucrats.”

The Charter is part of an IRR campaign for greater parental choice in
schooling. This can be achieved through giving parents and communities
greater control over schools, implementing charter schools or a similar
model in this country, or giving parents education vouchers and allowing
them to send their children to the school of their choice.

Where parents have more choice, and more control over schools, results are

Ending the crisis in education, especially in our schools, is something
that concerns all South Africans, whether they have children at school or
not. South Africa has the potential to provide all its children with
excellent schooling, but this is not a task that we can leave to the
government alone – it is vital that parents and communities get involved.


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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