Zambia’s government has warned that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that fail to register under the current NGO Act risk being deregistered and will not be allowed to operate.
Community Development Mother and Child Health Minister, Joseph Katema, says that all NGOs should register under the current Act even if they had other licenses for them to be allowed to operate.
Responding to the threats by NGOs that they will not register under the Act in its current form as it was ill intended, Dr Katema said most NGOs had already registered in accordance with the Act and that his office would soon compile a list of those that have not done so.
To read the article titled, “Government threatens NGOs with deregistration if they don’t register under NGO Act,” click here.Source:Lusaka Times
Red Cross says ‘progress’ has been made in finding some of the 59 people who were still missing after the Westgate mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya.
Red Cross spokesperson, Wariko Waita, says that some are being reunited with their families, although she gave no details about numbers or where those people have been found.
Waita says that a Red Cross team is counselling the victims at a triage centre 600 meters away from the shattered mall where forensics experts are combing through the crime scene for evidence.
Meanwhile, some bodies are still believed to be trapped under the rubble.
To read the article titled, “Red Cross: More missing Kenyans found after attack,” click here.Source:News 24
The cancellation of the formal event at which Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, Julius Malema, was expected to speak, paints a worrying picture of political intolerance and a lack of regard for freedom of expression in South Africa.
Freedom of Expression Institute executive director, Phenyo Butale, says that cancelling an event that presented an opportunity for debate was tantamount to silencing participants in the discussion.
Butale warns that, "This should not be a trend where universities meant to cultivate a culture of robust debate are at the forefront of silencing just that.”
In the same vein, political analyst and director at the Centre for the Study of Democracy, Steven Friedman, says the risk of violence is no reason for a university to cancel an event intended for debate.
To read the article titled, “UNISA staff denounce ‘gagging’ of Malema,” click hereSource:Business Day
Following President Jacob Zuma's signing in of the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) says that 'non-compliance' to this law is the next logical step.
OUTA chairperson, Wayne Duvenage, says that citizens have been 'sufficiently educated' in the pros and cons on the e-tolling proposition by government and that defiance by citizens is the next step once the law gets implemented by government.
Zuma's signing of the Bill into law gives the Transport Minister executive powers to publish regulations and including the tariffs, later putting these up for consideration into the public arena for a minimum of two weeks.
To read the article titled, “Non-compliance is the next step – OUTA,” click here.Source:SABC News
- When looking at the history of education in South Africa (SA), previously disadvantaged people were discriminated against because of their skin colour. This resulted in poor education which was candy-coated in the form of Bantu education. In those unjust times the previously disadvantaged people were prohibited from gaining access to decent schooling systems by the apartheid regime and deprived of basic school resources. Yet even under these circumstances, they were resilient and prevailed. After the fall of the apartheid, people were eager to see the radical change in the education system that would grant citizens access to decent and equal education.
Unfortunately, freedom and democracy have not guaranteed access to decent education for South African children. Throughout the years, education woes in SA have escalated and currently the Department of Basic Education sits with the daunting task of having to work through the problems of the education system in this country. For starters, the basic delivery of school materials such as textbooks to schools has been outright appalling. It is not just the Limpopo Province that is plagued with the ‘textbook scandal’, other provinces like the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal have also delayed children’s learning through their lack of urgency in delivering textbooks to schools. While I was doing my research in the rural area of Mqele in the Eastern Cape, I found that pupils in a nearby primary school did not have access to libraries and the teachers were the only ones in classroom with a textbook. Yet these children are still expected to do their school projects and write tests without proper learning materials. There needs to be a system in place to hold officials responsible for delivering school materials accountable. It is a grave injustice for school children to suffer for their incompetence.
Also, the issues concerning the lack of basic infrastructure and maintenance in schools is like a rock tied around not only the pupils’ neck but the teachers as well. Children have to walk miles and miles - sometimes barefoot - to go to school and sit under a tree to learn. Some schools have leaking roofs, some do not have water or proper sanitation while others have problems that are beyond this article to describe. These pupils are then expected to learn and excel under these harsh conditions.
To make matters worse, school children endure all these conditions, only to be taught by under-qualified teachers that have Junior Certificates. While I do not dispute that some have contributed immensely to the South African education system, it is still not enough. It can also not be disputed that it puts learners at a disadvantage. If SA wants children to have quality education the need for qualified teachers is imperative. We cannot expect a teacher with a Junior Certificate who did not finish high school to go and teach high school learners. Quality education in the form of qualified teachers should not be substituted by experience. The onus is on the Department of Basic Education to ensure that qualified teachers are assigned to relevant posts. Under the apartheid regime, it was ‘logical’ to have unqualified teachers teaching black children because Bantu education had to maintain the status quo that ensured white supremacy and black inferiority. It does not make sense today. Trade unions also need to play a major role in encouraging their members to acquire skills required to do their job efficiently. This will translate into placing more emphasis on the learner’s rights to access quality education.
It amazes me that today, at a time where South Africans have gained their freedom and are able to determine their own future, without being prejudiced by the colour of their skin, they still choose to ignore the one thing that can empower and better people's circumstances - education. The low quality of education in SA cannot be linked to shortage of resources, but in most cases has a lot to do with the lack of capacity by the relevant departments to translate the allocated budgets into educational priorities.
The South African education system has long been a cause for concern. Stories of school children not receiving their textbooks and children learning under trees is unacceptable, almost 20 years into democracy. It is a tragedy that SA’s overall education system is rated 133rd out of 142 countries by the World Economic Forum.
Fixing the challenges facing our education system should start with taking small steps like implementing the Norms and Standards Act, and thereafter taking action towards applying change. However, the reality is that government cannot do this alone. It needs to start taking the concerns brought forward by civil society seriously further by working in partnership with NGOs and other stakeholders. This is because the former and the latter are working towards the same goal – of providing decent education.
In addition, the National Education Collaboration, which brings together parent bodies, NGOs, trade unions and community leaders with the aim of improving the quality of education, is a step in the right direction. As citizens, we should also support NGOs’ efforts aimed at addressing challenges in education. Their fight is our fight. South Africans have a right to education and it is government’s duty to honour this right, especially since it was a privilege during apartheid.
- Lusisipo Piyose is a volunteer at SANGONeT. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in Media Studies and International Relations, as well as Honours Degree in Media Studies from University of the Witwatersrand.
A consortium of civil society organisations (CSOs) have reiterated their call on Zambia’s government to suspend the current non-governmental organisation (NGO) registration exercise and immediately initiate a process to repeal the Act.
The civil society organisations said they will remain resolute and unshaken to any innuendos and manoeuvres by any section of society to force them to be registered under an instrument that they claim was aimed at ‘killing’ the country’s democratic liberty.
In a statement read on behalf of 24 civil society organisations by Non Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) board secretary, Grace Manyonga in Lusaka, the CSOs said they were resolutely opposed to regulation under the current law.
To read the article titled, “CSOs demand suspension of NGO registration exercise,” click here.Source:Lusaka Times
Corruption Watch is demanding answers on President Jacob Zuma’s lawyer, Michael Hulley’s role in the controversial R10 billion tender to distribute social grants.
The organisation states that Hulley was appointed by South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) as a strategic adviser for the tender process on an ad hoc basis and for R21 000 a day.
Corruption Watch, which recently criticised suspended general secretary of Congress of the South African Trade Unions, Zwelinzima Vavi, for having sex with a junior staff member, argues that SASSA’s approach to investigating tender irregularities and corruption is a hindrance for duties of organs of state.
In the same vein, SASSA’s Raphaahle Ramokgopa, admitted that Hulley never sent invoices to the social security agency and was not paid by the agency.
To read the article titled, “Watchdog takes aim at Zuma’s lawyer,” click here.Source:IOL News
Following close to a year of campaigning to make the list of national key points public, the Right2Know Campaign (R2K) and the South Africa History Archive (SAHA) have served the police and defence ministers with court papers to gain access to a list of national key points.
The internal appeal against the decision to release the list was turned down, therefore R2K and SAHA believe they are left with no other choice but to go to court in order to obtain the list.
The organisations argue that the National Key Points Act is a remnant of the apartheid era and encourages subjective and anti-democratic secrecy.
To read the article titled ‘National key points must be public - R2K’, click hereSource:News 24
“It’s bad. It just is,” says Malehlohonolo Khauoe about the education she received at a rural school outside Matatiele in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, the country’s worst-performing region. Schooling here is so inferior that the national education ministry took over its management.
This is the frontline of the education crisis in South Africa. The 19-year-old is one of its millions of victims. When pressed to describe what is so bad at her school, she says the “problem is mostly with the teachers.”
Gugulethu Xhala, 20, is from the same village but went to a different school in the area. She agrees: “Teachers sometimes just talk about whatever, nothing to do with education. They are not being monitored to make sure they are doing a good job.”
Both women have dropped out: Xhala after grade 8 and Khauoe in the middle of grade 11 (the penultimate year of high school) when she fell pregnant. Neither has a job and without a decent education their prospects are bleak.
South Africa spends 20 percent of its budget on education, or 6.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) (considerably more than many other emerging market economies) and yet performs dismally in international comparisons. The World Economic Forum’s competitiveness index for 2012–2013 ranks South Africa’s overall education system at 140 out of 144 countries, and its maths and science education at 143 out of 144.
The minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga, denies there is a crisis. She must be blind: 1.2 million children were enrolled in grade 1 in 2001, but only 44 percent stayed in the system to take their National Senior Certificate (NSC) in 2012. Only 12 percent of that grade 1 cohort ended up passing their NSC well enough to study for a university degree; and only 11 percent passed maths with a mark of 40 percent or above.
Why, then, is South Africa not reaping what it spends? Khauoe’s and Xhala’s experiences highlight three critical factors that affect educational outcomes: teachers, the management of teachers, and outside disruptions to schooling (in Khauoe’s case, falling pregnant). Jennifer Shindler, a specialist manager at JET Education Services, a nonprofit research and development organisation, terms these “In-classroom factors, such as teaching and resources; in-school factors, such as leadership and management; and out-of-school factors, such as parental involvement and socio-economic circumstances.”
Teachers take the flak for South Africa’s declining education standards. “The content knowledge of teachers is a serious challenge,” admits David Silman, a director at the basic education department. Ariellah Rosenberg, head of educator empowerment at ORT SA, a nonprofit organisation that provides teacher training and skills development, agrees. “Education is only as good as your teachers, and our universities are failing to produce quality teachers, particularly in maths and science. Teachers also have patchy content knowledge. We go to schools and find that teachers are only teaching the parts of the curriculum that they are comfortable with.”
Madelaine, 62, who asked to remain anonymous, is a teacher with 40 years’ experience in a formerly white public high school east of Johannesburg. She agrees that teachers do not know enough. Recently, a department head in her school gave a test to pupils studying tourism. It asked them to name two countries in South America. Italy was among the answers suggested by the department head, Madelaine says. “A professional attitude needs to be instilled into young people entering the [teaching] profession. For many people it is ‘sheltered employment’, as they fail to meet deadlines and present quality lessons and yet are never sanctioned,” she says.
One fix would be to introduce school inspectors. The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), the country’s largest teaching union, is opposed. Their stance harks back to a time when inspectors from the white National Party government were viewed with suspicion in black schools. “They were just there to find fault, policing teachers without playing a development role,” said Mugwena Maluleke, SADTU general secretary, in December 2012 when President Jacob Zuma proposed reintroducing inspectors.
However, both Silman and Shindler suggest that much can be done even without inspectors. “There are two factors crucial in education: teachers and management,” Silman says. “A well-run school will almost always have a good principal.”
School management, which largely depends on principals, is one of the ‘in- school’ factors mentioned by Shindler. Education district offices, which fall under provincial education departments, are supposed to support and monitor schools both in administration and subject areas. However, Shindler says, the districts are often understaffed and their personnel may not have the right skills. The districts cannot visit and support schools often or effectively enough to ensure good quality education.
Without well-functioning district support and monitoring, a school’s success often comes down to its principal. School governing bodies (SGBs) hire principals subject to the approval of the provincial heads of department. A well-run school is therefore likely to have a well-functioning SGB, states Silman. SGBs include teachers and pupils, but a majority of their members must be parents.
However, about two-thirds of South African children do not live in the same household as their biological parents. Poverty and adult illiteracy often prevent parents who are present from getting more involved in their children’s education. “In our interventions in education we are often missing the parents,” explains Rosenberg. “Parents play a huge role, but I think often parents don’t have the knowledge of how to help.”
The value of education in South Africa has been lost, says Jonathan Jansen, rector and vice-chancellor of the University of the Free State. It started in the 1950s with the destruction of church schools, which historically had been a source of ‘intellectual consciousness’ in the black population, says Jansen. The 1976 student uprising also eroded the authority of teachers and the state as providers of education, he argues. This effect can be seen today when people (including parents) blockade schools or burn libraries during community protests.
Other out-of-school factors, such as poverty, shackle the attitude of parents and society towards education. “Socio- economic factors go down through generations and starkly affect educational outcomes for children,” according to Shindler. Some 36 percent of seven to 24-year-olds are not in education because they do not have enough money for fees, according to Statistics South Africa. Family commitments, having to work at home, and pregnancy account for another 26 percent of those not receiving instruction. Only seven percent are not in education because they consider it useless.
Many bright young people are missing out on the chance of getting a higher education because they cannot afford it, states Jansen. “There are not enough bursaries for the bulge of students now coming out of the school system,” he explains, even if pupils unqualified to study for higher education are excluded.
His point highlights an area of success that is easily overlooked amid the disaster stories coming out of South Africa’s education system. Access to education has improved dramatically over the last few decades. In 1980, just 30 000 black African pupils took their matric (the predecessor to the NSC). Now over 400 000 black candidates sit the exam every year. The number of children enrolled in pre-primary schools has nearly trebled in the last decade alone.
Yet this improved access has brought with it the challenge of educating a fast- expanding school population using teachers who were often themselves the product of apartheid-era Bantu (black) education. “In criticising education policy in South Africa, people often forget the challenges that were faced after 1994,” says Shindler.
“The transition period involved a difficult process of amalgamating all the old education departments, equalising expenditure and distributing teachers. On the whole I think very good policies were introduced to handle that process.” Some would disagree, arguing that post-apartheid policies have been part of the problem, in particular the frequent changing of the curriculum.
Silman admits that compromises were made in this transition period, particularly in giving the provinces more power over education. “I can understand the desire after the apartheid era to decentralise power over government functions like education, but it can make it very hard for a national department to ensure that its policies are implemented effectively.”
Arguably the failures in South Africa’s education system reflect the problems that have beset governance in the country more generally since 1994. A lack of skills, monitoring and accountability have led to poor policy implementation, inferior training of teachers and bureaucrats, and a system many people have lost hope in. Those who can afford to are increasingly sending their children to private schools.
“It does seem that parents are voting with their feet,” says Simon Lee, information manager at the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa. The number of pupils in independent schools nearly doubled between 2000 and 2012 to over 500 000. The government also does not express the same degree of hostility to the private sector as it does in other fields, such as health. A number of public-private initiatives, ranging from teacher training to the sharing of resources, show that cooperation is being embraced to the benefit of schools and pupils.
Unfortunately, any solution will come too late for Khauoe and Xhala and millions of others.
- Lucy Holborn was research manager at the South African Institute of Race Relations and now works as an analyst at Ernst & Young Advisory Services. This article first appeared in Africa in Fact, the journal of Good Governance Africa.
Human Rights Watch has expressed its concerns about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe and to request that President Robert Mugabe give priority to improving human rights during his presidency.The organisation urges Mugabe and the incoming administration to take clear, decisive measures to honour the country's human rights obligations and ensure the protection and promotion of fundamental freedoms for the benefit of all Zimbabweans.
The organisation says it believes that this is an important opportunity for the government to help nurture and develop a culture of respect for human rights in Zimbabwe that should not be missed.
To read the article titled, “Setting the human rights agenda for Mugabe government,” click here.Source:AllAfrica