This was the promise that heralded the birth of democracy in South Africa – a better life for all. This promise meant different things to different people, yet there would have been few who disagreed that a good education would be the stepping stone to a better life for the children of the Nelson Mandela generation.
Sadly, a better education for all has not transpired in the Eastern Cape. In fact the poor quality education offered to pupils in the province has led to a migration of pupils to the Western Cape in search of a better life and a better education than what is on offer in the Eastern Cape.
According to Stats SA, 329 714 people have migrated from the Eastern Cape between 2006 and 2011 – more than have migrated away from any other province.
The reasons for the trend are not difficult to understand. The quality of life in the Eastern Cape under an ANC administration is seriously compromised by poor service delivery and equally poor governance. No one area typifies this better than the state of the education in that province.
According to Helen Zille, the leader of the Democratic Alliance, 44% of new school registrations tracked in Western Cape schools this year, from Grade 1 to Grade 12, are from the Eastern Cape.
“We have warmly welcomed these pupils to the Western Cape, who otherwise would have been tossed onto the smouldering ruins of Eastern Cape education, where pupils still study in some 394 mud schools or under trees, where the Education Department spent only a paltry 28 % of its infrastructure budget; where the Department cannot work out how many ghost schools it has, let alone ghost teachers; where learner outcomes are worse than in any other province; and where teachers in the biggest teacher union spent the first six weeks of the new school year on strike.
The horrifying truth is that an average child in the Eastern Cape today is likely to get a worse education than she would in parts of the war ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo”, said Zille in a speech made at the DA Provincial Congress in Grahamstown.
In almost every other area, the Western Cape also outperforms the Eastern Cape. It truly offers a better quality of life, more opportunity and an improved chance of any one person being able to realise their potential.
This, no doubt, is the source of massive embarrassment to the ANC. Apart from the obvious fact that the Western Cape is the only province where it is not in power, the Eastern Cape is the ANC’s political heartland. And its inability to deliver the most basic services to Eastern Cape citizens effectively constitutes a direct assault on one of its core constituencies.
The time has come for the people of the Eastern Cape to no longer vote with their feet and move to the Western Cape. The time has come for the people of the Eastern Cape to vote at the ballot box and begin the 2nd Liberation that has already occurred in the Western Cape. This is the path to economic liberation and a better life for all.