Durban – King Goodwill Zwelithini has decried the poor quality of education in South Africa, saying it is unacceptable that the country ranks even lower than some of the poorest nations on the continent.
The interference by unions, selling of teacher and principal posts, alcohol, drugs, the proximity of taverns to schools and the lack of dedicated teachers were to blame for the current state of education, he said.
Addressing a gathering of high school principals in Ulundi on Tuesday, the king said the time for blaming apartheid is over.
He cited a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development which showed that South Africa was ranked 75 out of 76 countries.
“While some of these problems could be attributed to the lack of resources during apartheid, we cannot run away from taking responsibility as parents and teachers and you as principals.”
He said some of the schools were in a state that was “never even imagined during apartheid”.
“We should also ask ourselves if we are not the ones who are a problem.
“Most of our problems are created by us, but sometimes we may not be aware.”
The king also accused some teachers of “lacking discipline”.
“In some areas the word teacher has become synonymous with drunkard. The profession is in danger of losing its integrity because there are many who enter the profession because they are seeking employment.
“Teaching is not a place to hide, it is a calling.”
While the department has set a 76% matric pass rate target this year, the king challenged the officials and principals to aim for 80% and above.
“I do not see why you should not aim for 80% this year so that next year, when I celebrate my 70th birthday, you can give me 100%,” he said, to much applause.