Open Letter to the Minister of Education

I read a letter on which I loved and wanted to share with our readers

Dear Ms Motshekga

Following your interview yesterday (Thursday, 12 June), I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth and great disappointment with your utterances. The way you have handled the textbook saga in Limpopo leaves much to be desired. I am at a student at the University of Cape Town, who is writing in his personal capacity. I feel personally affected by the issue as I had to endure similar hardships in high school.

Yesterday, you said, and I quote: “I’m not responsible for the delivery of textbooks, I make policies”. While some of us were still taken aback by this, you went further to say: “I do not even know what’s happening in classrooms. I don’t work in classrooms”. Both statements are incredibly irresponsible and reek of an arrogant attitude towards the citizens of the very nation whose educational interests you have been tasked with. Additionally, it is a manifestation of the blasé and dismissive manner in which you have dealt, or rather failed to deal with the textbook situation in Limpopo.
Honourable Minister, to say that you do not deliver textbooks but rather you make policies is a poor way to shift the blame. Ultimately, it is the department of Education that has to ensure that learners have textbooks, especially at schools in disadvantaged areas, as is the case here. And YOU, no one else, head that department. The buck stops at you. So, yes you most certainly are responsible for making sure textbooks are delivered. The policies you pride yourself in making are useless without resources anyway.

You say you do not work in classrooms, and do not know what happens there, a rather interesting comment to make, considering the fact that you are the Minister of Basic Education. In case the honourable minister has forgotten, education happens IN the classroom. One would at least expect the minister to know what happens in classrooms across the country. How you do it is up to you; task teams, delegations etc. The options are endless to be quite honest. To say you don’t work in classrooms, so you don’t know what happens is not only a feeble excuse but also a terrible PR mistake that further exposes your shortcomings in terms of understanding what is expected of you in this post. Education happens in classrooms, not in the meeting rooms of Parliament or the corridors of Luthuli House. I never thought there would ever come a day when a political nobody like me has to remind an esteemed minister what her job is.

Honourable Minister, ask yourself if you as a mother would be delighted with a situation whereby the school you children attend has no textbooks. If your answer is no, then perhaps it is time to admit that you have failed as the minister of Basic Education. Your sons and daughters probably go to the Hiltons, the Michalehouses and Rhoedeans of this world, so perhaps you are not familiar with not having textbooks and what that means. Perhaps, that is the reason for your blasé conduct with regards to the matter. As someone who went to a previously disadvantaged school in the Eastern Cape, I know how it feels to look at your parents and see their great expectations of you, knowing fully well you may never be able to meet them because you have to share a textbook with ten other leaners for a start. I envy you and your children because I highly doubt you can relate to that.

To have to be forced by a court order to deliver textbooks (which is doing your job, really) is nothing short of appalling. Now there is a probe into the matter. Why? We know textbooks were not delivered. We know who didn’t deliver them. What exactly are we probing here? It is July now, six months into the academic year. Please stop wasting the learners’ time, and the nation’s time too.

Act, Honourable Minister, act. Do the job you so solemnly swore to do diligently when you were sworn in two years ago. Otherwise, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I cannot wait for the 2014 elections to get here.

I wish you a more productive remainder of your term.

Kind Regards

Siyabonga Nyezi


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