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  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU condemns PIC investment in private schools

10 July 2012

The Congress of South African Trade Unions deplores the decision by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to join with Old Mutual in establishing a fund worth R1, 2 billion to enable Curro Holdings, a JSE-listed private schools company, to build and acquire privately-owned schools for children from low-income families across the country.

It is totally unacceptable for a custodian of money held on behalf of public-service workers, to bolster the private education system, at a time when our under-funded public education services are in a massive crisis, in part at least because of severe shortage of money.

What is particularly disturbing is that the reported reason for establishing this fund is that demand within the private schools education market is rising due to “concern about the quality of government education”.

Can the PIC Board not see that these concerns about the quality of government education arise precisely because government education is starved of cash, which organisations like the PIC — which manages more than R1-trillion — could provide.

R1.2 billion, provided it is properly managed and monitored, could play a significant part in starting to improve the quality of public education and narrow the gap between the two tiers. Yet instead the PIC is spending all this money on private schools which are already well-funded.

It will widen still further the gulf between the two tiers of our education provision – a well-resourced private sector providing high-class education for a wealthy minority of 470 000 learners in around 3000 schools, and a under-funded and dysfunctional public sector providing generally appalling levels of education to the poor, overwhelmingly black, majority of 11.5 million learners in around 30 000 schools.

This is what happens when the venomous doctrine of ‘user-pays’ is applied to what ought to be basic public services. Education, healthcare, transport and housing are turned into commodities which a privileged few can enjoy because they can afford to pay, and those who can’t pay are left with dreadful levels of service in squalid conditions.

COSATU demands that the PIC Board reconsiders its decision and approaches the Department of Basic Education to discuss how their money could be better used to speed up the transformation of our public education system, which is such an urgent priority for the learners themselves and for the future of South Africa as a whole.

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Street

P.O.Box 1019
South Africa

Tel: +27 11 339-4911 or Direct: +27 10 219-1339
Mobile: +27 82 821 7456
E-Mail: patrick@cosatu.org.za