Giving hope as public education system fails

Within education activism circles there is an ongoing debate about how far to support private education in our efforts to see the dream of education for all realised.

Clearly, education cannot be left to the proverbial marketplace; it is a fundamental right which the state should provide through the fiscus.

The trouble, of course, is when public education systems fail to deliver quality education and parents – rich and poor – begin voting with their feet to seek private options.

In South Africa, we have seen, in particular, the rapid expansion of low-fee private schools catering for the lower income end of the market.

For education activists the growing privatisation of education poses a threat to the social confidence in the state education system.

Activists take principled positions in particular against for-profit education companies.

For activists, it is important that existing public schools be capacitated adequately by both government and the private sector, because the majority of children cannot opt out of the public system.

Over the years I have been involved in many initiatives to fight for the improvement of our basic education system, including ending up in court with fellow activists to attempt to get Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to rigorously implement the 2011 Section 100(1)(b) intervention that put the Eastern Cape department of education under the national department’s administration.

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