House of Assembly: Vol3 - THURSDAY 9 MAY 1985
Mr Chairman, I move:
Vote No 17—“Manpower” (contd):
Mr Chairman, in the very first place I wish to thank all hon members who participated in the debate last night for their controlled and responsible contributions and for the appreciation they expressed toward me and the officials of the department.
I wish to associate myself with the appreciation expressed by hon members toward the officials of the department by thanking them from my side for their valuable contribution to order and stability in the field of labour and to development and better utilization and conservation of the manpower of our country.
The department plays a key role in the difficult economic times we are experiencing and this demands not only hard work but exceptional insight, loyalty and responsible action from every official and especially from the small group of senior officers who have to provide leadership. In this respect I wish to point out that almost 60% of the officials in this department have less than five years’ service. Lately too much unjustified criticism has been expressed too easily against the Public Service and Public Servants and that is why I appreciate the recognition accorded officials in this debate.
Various members also referred directly or indirectly to relations with our neighbouring countries in the field of manpower and the importance of liaison in this regard. Arising from this I should like to refer to initiatives taken in the field of manpower in consequence of the Nkomati Accord. On various occasions over the past few months discussions were held on manpower affairs at ministerial level and also that of officials with deputations from the Mozambique government. These discussions took place alternately in Maputo and at various places in the Republic of South Africa—inter alia Cape Town, Pretoria and Nelspruit. In the course of these discussions bottlenecks were identified and structures created for consultation, discussion and co-operation.
Earlier this afternoon a deputation under the leadership of the Minister of Labour of that country, His Excellency Aguiar Mazula, arrived in Cape Town from Mozambique with a view to further consultations which will take place tomorrow. On conclusion of the discussions, I hope to be able to issue certain statements on the results of negotiations conducted so far.
†Mr Chairman, the hon member for Pine-lands raised a number of points. I should like to thank him first of all for his positive approach to labour matters, and also for bringing a number of important issues to our attention. I should like too to react to some of the points raised by him during his speech.
The hon member for Pinelands enquired when the report of the National Manpower Commission on farm workers would be available and also remarked that the report was long overdue. The investigation which was conducted was a very thorough one and a lengthy report has been completed which is now in the hands of the Government Printer, after which it will be submitted to the Cabinet for a decision on its release and further handling.
The hon member also asked whether the National Productivity Institute’s budget had been reduced. The answer is yes—in line with the general reduction of Government expenditure. This was reluctantly resorted to but could unfortunately not be avoided.
He also referred to the sheltered employment scheme and mentioned that only five people from the Black population groups were employed in such factories which, to him, was not understandable. The fact of the matter is that sheltered employment schemes have been identified as own affairs and that responsibility for these schemes now vests in the relevant departments for own affairs. Their future establishment and development are therefore the responsibility of those departments. This arrangement also covers Blacks, the relevant department being the Department of Co-operation and Development and the various homeland governments.
Insofar as the appointment of the members of the National Manpower Commission is concerned I should like to stress that members are appointed not because of their association with any particular organization but purely on the basis of their expertise and their knowledge in relation to labour matters, in particular also on the grounds of their ability to approach labour matters from the point of view of the national interest. I approached a large number of organizations for nominations for members, including emergent unions, and the eventual appointments were made on the basis of the nominations received. I should, however, like to mention that some organizations that were approached did not react.
Furthermore the hon member for Pine-lands also suggested a number of initiatives in regard to the problem of structural unemployment. All I want to say in this respect is that the White Paper on a Strategy for Employment Creation in the Republic of South Africa dealt with most of the matters raised by the hon member. In terms of the White Paper a committee was established to monitor the progress made in the execution of the strategy, and I think that in the circumstances the appointment of an employment opportunities commission as suggested by the hon member is not really warranted. It is also true that the Economic Advisory Council is giving ongoing attention to the whole question of unemployment and that an action committee is also involved in evolving employment creation programmes in accordance with the funds that have been made available for short-term employment creation. The whole question of unemployment is of course also dealt with in the main Budget of the hon the Minister of Finance and, in fact, a great deal of attention was devoted to this particular problem in this year’s Budget Debate.
The hon member referred to the informal sector, and in this regard I should say that this is a matter of great concern and priority to the Government. I also want to refer to the report of the National Manpower Commission in which it was recommended that the factors that hamper the development of the informal sector should receive particular attention. The Economic Committee of the President’s Council is also giving attention to this aspect.
The hon member suggested that the pass-laws should go and that influx control should be repealed. He knows, of course, that this is a matter which is receiving the attention of the Cabinet Committee which is investigating the position of urban Blacks.
The hon member also mentioned the need for a social security plan for South Africa. In this regard I can only mention that the major problem in respect of such a plan is of course financial which under present-day circumstances would place an enormous additional burden on the taxpayers of South Africa.
The hon member also referred to the unrest on the mines and to the utilization of labour, and made a plea for the repeal of job reservation on mines. The hon member will appreciate that this is a matter which falls to be dealt with by my colleague the hon the Minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs.
*The hon member for Roodeplaat also made a very positive contribution which emphasized that it was unnecessary to appoint an additional commission to examine the unemployment question because in any case the National Manpower Commission in consultation with the Economic Advisory Council of the State President was continually reviewing this problem.
The hon member also referred to the bulky reports of inter alia the National Manpower Commission. I may mention that the National Manpower Commission is aware of the costs and the time element involved in such reports but the scientific spirit cannot be sacrificed. To facilitate the matter, however, all reports carry a résumé.
The hon member for Jeppe proffered apologies for the absence of the chief spokesman of his party. I regret to learn of his illness and hope he will soon be fully recovered.
The hon member for Jeppe accused me of supposedly being unfeeling toward unemployment. He also said the Government underestimated the problem of unemployment and that as the Minister I took no interest in the worker. I can point out to the hon member once again that the Government has been giving attention over many years, in fact continually, to the unemployment question and that this problem was addressed repeatedly in the past as actually also appears from the White Paper to which I have already referred and also the numerous inquiries in progress in connection with the problem of unemployment.
I honestly consider it an unfair allegation by the hon member when he asserts that the Government does not take the unemployment problem seriously. During debates on various Votes it has, in fact, been emphasized repeatedly and the Government has also announced a wide variety of measures in particular to attempt combating unemployment. Neither is it correct to lay the unemployment problem at the door of the Government alone and in our type of economic system the private sector actually bears the greatest responsibility for the creation of job opportunities. In this respect the Government has launched programmes to enable the private sector to promote employment creation action by the removal of restrictions. The decentralization programme of the Government which was instituted years ago is a further example of an action directed at creating job opportunities in the areas where the pressure of unemployment is greatest.
The hon member for Jeppe also referred to the Industrial Court and stated it was supposed to be easily accessible and at a low charge and alleged the court was currently enormously expensive. I wish to point out to him that the increases in fees related to court proceedings arise chiefly in consequence of the involvement of legal representatives and that it is unnecessary for any particular party to appoint such representatives or to make use of them. Legislation makes explicit provision that, if either of the two parties wishes to make use of legal representation, the consent of the other party has to be obtained.
He also expressed his concern on the politicizing of trade unions. The Government is naturally very well aware of certain influences in the trade union movement and I can only say this is a matter which is continually being watched.
The hon member for Stilfontein raised an important matter as regards the responsibility of neighbouring countries in connection with their workers employed in the RSA. Naturally labour agreements exist with various countries from which large numbers of workers are employed in the RSA and it is also true that forums are continually being sought for discussion between the states concerned and the RSA. In this respect I can refer inter alia to discussions held since the Nkomati Accord with the government of Mozambique in consequence of which a considerable number of bottlenecks and problems have been identified which will also receive further attention this week during consultations with a deputation from that government. The RSA Government also maintains continual dialogue with the leaders of the TB VC states as part of the multilateral system which was created and within which discussion is then conducted on problems centring on the application of manpower from those states in the RSA.
He also emphasized that employers should contribute their share and I am totally of the same mind because the responsibility for sound labour relations rests to the greatest extent on the shoulders of employers in ironing out problems which crop up with their employees with the minimum of interference and involvement from the side of the Government.
†The hon member for King William’s Town raised the very important question of rural employment and training. In this regard I can mention that it is being addressed in several ways. The problem was firstly addressed in the strategy for the creation of employment opportunities which was tabled in Parliament last year and is also being tackled as part of the community development programme and the population development programme of the Department of Health and Welfare.
He referred to the registration fees in respect of farm workers. I should like to point out that the registration of farm workers does not take place in terms of legislation administered by the Department of Manpower, nor is the collection of fees done on behalf of the Department of Manpower.
The hon member raised the very important issue of the publicizing of the training of farm labour, and I wholeheartedly agree with him that there should be greater awareness also among farmers of the importance of and need for training. The department is doing everything possible to promote and encourage the training of farm workers and in this regard I want to refer to the efforts of the Boskop Training Centre which was established by the Government some years ago and which is also very active as far as providing training on individual farms by means of mobile training units is concerned. A special financial arrangement was made last year to make it easier for farmers to train their workers in that the tax concession scheme was replaced by a subsidy to the relevant public group-training centres. Farmers now, in fact, pay only 25% of the course fee, whilst 75% of the actual fee is paid by the Government in the form of a subsidy to group-training centres providing training for farm workers.
He also referred to the conditions of employment in the sheltered employment scheme and remarked that wages were low, suggesting also that the factories should sell products at market prices. I referred to this matter earlier, pointing out that these schemes are now regarded as own affairs in terms of the new constitutional dispensation, and that the department presently manages the schemes on an agency basis as an interim measure. I can mention that the Department of Manpower has launched a scheme to try to improve management at the sheltered employment factories, and that a great deal of success has already been achieved as a result of these efforts. Improvements in this area will hopefully result in the improved ability of these factories to provide better conditions of employment and increased wages for the workers concerned.
The Government and the Department of Manpower are deeply concerned about the position of disabled persons particularly in view of the disadvantage which they experience in the labour market. I should like to take this opportunity to appeal to the private sector to play a much more prominent role insofar as the employment of disabled persons is concerned and not to leave the major responsibility to the State.
*The hon member for Welkom mentioned the fact that over the past number of years a great deal had been done to promote training. I wish to thank him for the appreciation expressed of the efforts of the department in this regard. He also made the important point that neighbouring countries could give greater recognition to the advantages which accrued to them because workers from those countries could come and work in the Republic of South Africa. I am inclined to agree with him because a number of these countries are largely dependent on the Republic of South Africa for job opportunities and also receive great financial benefit from the fact that people from their countries are permitted to work in the Republic of South Africa. Large amounts of money in the form of retained wages are remitted to these areas whereas the workers themselves also send appreciable amounts to their families and take substantial funds with them on completion of their contracts of service. It is also true that, if the possibility of job opportunities in the Republic of South Africa did not exist, the economy of these countries would probably find it difficult to be able to provide the job opportunities itself and economic retrogression would decidedly set in among them there.
†The hon member for Greytown stressed the importance of the report on the training of artisans. He said that it should be implemented and not be allowed to gather dust. I can assure him that it is not the policy of the Department of Manpower to allow our reports to gather dust but to implement the recommendations at the earliest possible date.
He also referred to the efforts of the civil engineering industry and the fact that training centres are now closing down and are being put into mothballs on account of cash flow problems experienced. I wish to assure him that if it is at all possible, use will be made of such centres for the training of workseekers in terms of the schemes which I announced yesterday. The Department of Manpower has a very close association with the civil engineering industry, and members of this industry also serve on the National Training Board where they will be able to make valuable inputs in regard to the training of workseekers as well.
*The hon member for Rustenburg as usual made a good, positive contribution and emphasized the importance of job security from the point of view of the worker. I am in full agreement with this. I also wish to thank him for the appreciation he expressed of the progress made in the field of manpower over the past number of years especially as regards the timeous adaptation of legislation.
The hon member for Carletonville raised a very important aspect in referring to the importance of productivity and the role of management as regards this. It is true that increasing productivity is perhaps the responsibility of management in the very first instance. He also stressed the importance of management training and in this connection I may mention that it is a matter currently being investigated by the National Manpower Commission in conjunction with the National Training Board and is regarded as a very important and essential matter.
The hon member for Koedoespoort referred to strikes which were often preceded by incitement and agitation and I want to agree with him that in many strikes incidents of intimidation occur which greatly handicap relations and the maintenance of labour peace from the view of management and of certain groups of workers. He also referred to the time lost in consequence of accidents and mentioned his appreciation of a decline in accident figures. It is naturally also true that this is no reason for complacency and that efforts should continue to bring the figures down still further because loss of time in consequence of accidents naturally also adversely affects productivity.
The hon member for Newcastle referred to the status of the artisan and I agree with him that it is most essential that the status of the artisan be improved in the eyes of the worker and the public especially owing to the very important role he plays in the economy. One can only hope that the reports of the Human Sciences Research Council and the National Training Board will make a contribution in helping to put this matter right.
The hon member for Alberton referred to the HSRC report and the image of the artisan and I wish to assure him that comment on this report will be followed with interest and that active attempts will be applied in instituting the recommendations acceptable to the Government as rapidly as possible.
In addition I also wish to announce that in order to effect better liaison and communication I have decided to appoint a liaison officer to my department at the Ministry. I have appointed Mr W M Pruis to that position for improved and more regular liaison with MPs and outside institutions as well.
That is all I wish to say on the subject for the moment.
Mr Chairman, I should like to react briefly to some of the things the hon the Minister said about the creation of employment. I think it is a positive step to use some of the R100 million in urban areas, and even more so as it will be used for the construction of houses. In my opinion one should think about doing that on a far larger scale because we have an immense housing backlog which we have to overcome. At least when we have spent this money in this fashion, we leave something behind us which is a capital asset which belongs to the whole country.
As far as the hon the Minister’s remarks on decentralization are concerned, I discern there the same superficial approach to this problem that was apparent in the remarks of the hon member for Klip River yesterday. Those remarks were totally unanalysed. His statements that it was much cheaper to create job opportunities in a rural area than in an urban area were unquantified and unanalysed. The necessary information is just not given by hon members on the Government benches. If anybody thinks I am exaggerating he has only to read the last report of the Decentralization Board in which they admit that they have no idea of the cost of infrastructure for the creation of those jobs.
What I want to do this afternoon is to speak on industrial courts. An important element in securing labour peace is obviously adequate statutory provision for the settlement of disputes. The Wiehahn Commission of 1979 recognized this, and one of the recommendations was the establishment of industrial courts. Since 1979 the growing complexity of our labour law, the mushrooming of Black trade unions and a whole series of other factors have made this even more necessary.
Has the industrial court, we have to ask, lived up to Wiehahn’s expectations? An upgrade of the old industrial tribunal, this industrial court was envisaged by Wiehahn as being the labour/industrial equivalent of the general courts with right of appeal to the Supreme Court. It was to be a specialized institution with its officials having a sound knowledge of labour law, and it was to be one which could deal quickly and inexpensively with labour disputes and so get them out of the way.
As the Manpower Commission’s report makes abundantly clear, the whole system is in drastic need of an overhaul. Some of the problems are purely logistical, namely problems related to personnel, premises, salaries etc. While Wiehahn had hoped for trained experts in labour law to staff the courts, in practice it has proved very difficult to get these people. The courts are also understaffed, and this has worsened relative to the increasing caseload they are carrying. In January the Financial Mail reported in an interview with the court president, Mr Daan Ehlers, that the court had only two full-time members and that a number of posts were vacant. Permanent members of the court are supplemented on an ad hoc basis. These ad hoc members have come under fire because their decisions have so often conflicted with previous court decisions. Although Wiehahn originally envisaged a court whose members had a sound knowledge of labour law, this requirement was dropped from later legislation. As a result people with no training in the field are handing down often highly contentious judgments which bring the court itself into disrepute. A spokesman for the Metal and Allied Workers’ Union recently said the following:
He says that he does not believe the court to be so bad in other areas. Clearly, it is of critical importance that if the industrial courts are to fulfil their role they must be staffed by properly paid, highly qualified legal specialists.
Although more use is being made of the court—399 cases were heard last year as against only 18 in 1980—its image and status are still a cause for concern. The Manpower Commission’s report feels this can only be corrected if its highly ambiguous status in the judicial hierarchy is clarified. In fact, one might be tempted to ask: When is a court not a court? Is it when its chief officers are not appointed by the State President as normal judges are, when it falls under the Department of Manpower rather than the Department of Justice, when it has no higher court of appeal, when it can decide in a plaintiff’s favour but not allow that plaintiff to claim costs or when it does not have the power to hear cases arising out of contraventions of its own orders? This is quite a chaotic situation.
A very disquieting example of such shortcomings is the case of SA Technical Officials Association vs the President of the Industrial Court. I quote from a report in the Financial Mail:
It is imperative then that the court should be made independent and free from Government influence if it is to have the clout and the credibility that it needs. With the rising number of cases that the court seems set to carry, the Government must give urgent attention to these problems or run the risk of the whole court’s falling into disrepute.
Another crucial area which needs attention is the ill-defined nature of current labour law. In part this can be blamed on the whole ad hoc appointment system which inhibits the development of a coherent body of labour case law which could set precedents. Particularly murky is the definition of “unfair labour practice”, a concept at the heart of many disputes that must obviously come before that court. When this concept was first introduced in South African law it was defined as “any labour practice that the industrial court held to be an unfair labour practice”. This has since been modified but it remains an area of controversy and concern. The hope held out by Wiehahn that by making unfair labour practice determinations a body of case law would soon be built up, has not been realized. At present cases must first be referred to industrial councils or conciliation boards. Only if they are not settled after 30 days do they go to the industrial court. The whole process is cumbersome. A far more direct access to the court should be available. The more cases it hears the sooner a coherent body of law relating to unfair labour practice will be built up.
The Manpower Commission did a very thorough job, and business and industry have, by and large, reacted favourably to its recommendations. It is now up to the Government to implement them as rapidly as possible.
However, if political reform does not catch up with labour reform, labour relations could be heading for disaster. This can be appreciated when we examine the growing strength of the Black labour movement. Although by definition that labour movement should not be affiliated to or associated with any political party or movement, in a country where adequate political representation is not available to the majority of the workers it is hardly surprising that the union movement has strong political overtones. A leading Black trade unionist pointed out recently that these were the only organizations that could negotiate on matters such as rentals, housing and all sorts of day-to-day problems that arise in the townships. It is unlikely that politics and labour relations can ever be completely disentangled. This is true the world over but how much more true is it not in our circumstances. The alternative is to see this type of labour movement used more and more as a political instrument. We have seen in regard to schools and in other areas how institutions can be co-opted by national movements. In no time at all one could have a situation where there is a total breakdown. [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, I listened attentively to the hon member for Walmer and he made a good speech. It was quite balanced and to a great extent I can agree with him for having identified the problems correctly, but I doubt whether we should reconsider the definition of an unfair labour practice and whether we should not rather structure and staff the court in such a way that the original purpose is achieved of defining an unfair labour practice on the basis of decided cases. If one looks at the report, it is interesting to note that the greatest part of the court’s work deals with unfair labour practices.
With reference to the report I want to associate myself with previous speakers and merely say that once again it is the customary very good and very comprehensive, even more comprehensive report, that always provides interesting reading matter. In reading it two images in particular, based on the same set of facts, entered my mind. These were two basically paradoxical images, however. The first is the image that the instruments created by legislation since the Wie-hahn Enquiry are clearly being utilized more and more.
If one looks at the utilization of the procedure of applying for a conciliation board—the reference to this is table 3.4 on page 40 of the annual report—we see over the past three report years there has been an increase of 150% from 1981 to 1982, 99% in 1982 to 1983 and 128% from 1983 to 1984 in the applications for conciliation boards. My information is that this tendency is continuing in 1985. If one projects this on a graph for this period, it shows an average increase of 125% per year. If one looks at the table on page 41, it looks as though a double page will have to be bound into the next report to accommodate this table.
The same applies to the industrial court—the hon member for Walmer referred to that. In the respective years I quoted, the increase in the number of cases heard was 35%, 310% in the following year and in the past report year 138%, and once again the information is that this tendency is continuing in 1985. If one looks at this, there are a few points which necessitate the comment that the structures themselves, manpower in particular, cannot keep up with the projected tendency. If one merely looks at the increase in applications for conciliation boards which have to reach the hon the Minister’s table, it is very clear that there will have to be an amendment of the law so that powers can be delegated. I am not sure whether or not it is wise to content oneself with the stipulations in the report that legislation is not being considered; I think one will have to give urgent attention to that.
If one looks at the replacement of the existing staff complement of the department—500 people left the service and 515 were appointed—one comes under the impression of the great amount and the scope of the work that this department had to deal with when that increase took place.
When the increase in work is being handled by the same number of officials, it attests to an immense productivity. In addition one should take into account that to a great extent it is done by people who have not been in the department for very long and who are not necessarily trained for the specific purpose. This makes one even more worried. In any case it is clear that the optimum is being required from the people who are involved.
It is also clear from the statistics I quoted that the adjustments in the legislation following upon the Wiehahn Enquiry did not come a moment too soon. In general it is a positive sign that this system with its institutions is being utilized thoroughly.
There are also danger signs, however. The strikes and work stoppages are alarming. In 1983-84 there was an increase of 39%. If we look, however, at the number of employees involved in these strikes and work stoppages, there is an increase of approximately 64 000 to approximately 180 000 for the year 1983-84; this is a percentage increase of 256% individuals who were involved.
It is clear that despite the greater use of the legislative machinery, more strikes and work stoppages are occurring. A greater number of people are involved, and this points as a matter of course to a stronger polarization between employer and employee. It is being used more frequently and yet strikes occur to the same or to a greater extent. The use of this machinery, which we identify as being positive, also includes a dangerous tendency, because the higher utilization also indicates the higher tension that exists.
Although the system is trying to create an escape valve, inevitably it cannot guarantee the labour peace. Nor can the Government do so; it does not lie within its ability. It is the responsibility of the two parties involved, viz the employer and the employee.
If the system can be improved upon, suggestions should be made, also by the private sector. The important thing, however, is that once the relations have been severed, they cannot be restored by Government action.
Another interesting facet which puts a positive view on the matter, is that it seems that both parties—employer and employee—can see eye to eye in respect of conflict management. I say this on the basis of statistics in respect of the duration of strikes and work stoppages. The average figure is given as 2,1 days, and only 0,6% of these strikes and work stoppages last longer than 14 days, whereas 48% are concluded within a day or less. This is evidence for both the employer and the employee that they can see eye to eye to this extent in these circumstances. The handling of conflict is reasonably effective, therefore. I think that in future more attention will have to be paid to the prevention of conflict as far as the whole management system is concerned. The responsibility does not rest only with the employer, but also with the employee. That responsibility is in their own interest, but also in the interests of the country and its people.
While I still have a little time, I want to refer to the remark made by the hon member for Pinelands—to which the hon the Minister responded—that we need a social security system in this country. Indeed, there is a need for such a system; there is no doubt about that. The hon member for Pinelands also said it is the State’s moral responsibility to create such a system. The State is constituted by the Government and its subjects, however, and I think we must take cognizance of this. Personally I do not believe that our economy is capable of supporting a truly effective social security service. In my opinion the economy is not capable of it at present, and will not be for a long time. I believe, however, that the Government does indeed have a responsibility to address the need that exists in some way or another.
The private sector, however, also has a responsibility as part of that State scheme. The obligation to do something about such a social need is not part of the system, but is, in the first place, incumbent upon the people themselves.
Mr Chairman, may I ask the hon member a question?
I am sorry, but my time has nearly expired. In conclusion I merely want to make the point that the protection of employment opportunities is more important than their creation. We must look after people who are in service and must confirm the retention of those service opportunities at all cost. One of the factors I should have liked to discuss more fully if there were time, is that we have to ensure that we do not make use of technology in an indiscriminatory way. We must concentrate on that aspect in particular, and in this connection the Government also has an immensely responsible task to fulfil by means of its departments.
Mr Chairman, if I can agree with one statement made by the hon member for Randburg, it is the question of the protection of employment opportunities. I want to plead today particularly for the protection of the employment opportunities for Whites in South Africa.
The hon member for Swellendam says “tut”, because if a member of the CP rises in the House of Assembly, and makes representations for the Whites of South Africa, the hon member for Swellendam groans. Sir, we—and I think the public at large as well—are getting tired of people like the hon member for Swellendam and those people who groan when we speak up for the interests of the Whites in South Africa. [Interjections.] I now want to tell that hon member that he may groan until eventually he is no longer in this House, but as long as the CP is in Parliament, we shall fight for the interests of the Whites in this country. [Interjections.]
How White are you, Jan?
That hon member wants to know how White I am. Sir, I am a White Afrikaner, and proud of it. I have never been a traitor. [Interjections.] That hon member … [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, I agree with the hon member for Randburg that because South Africa is inundated with people from our Black neighbouring states as well as immigrants who are brought into the country, protection should be given in the first place to those parts which fall under this House of Assembly so that the White workers’ interests can be attended to. The CP will fight for that.
When the hon the Minister was still the chairman of the Commission for Co-operation and Development, research which he did in his commission revealed that the governments of national states and undertakings in them together with the Government of South Africa, annually supply 64% of the labour increase in and adjoining the national states with employment opportunities; and that 36% of the labour increase of the national states turned to the Republic of South Africa for employment opportunities annually. This alarming situation was very clear even then. The Republic of South Africa had to create employment opportunities annually for the total labour increase of the Blacks in the Republic of South Africa plus 36% of the labour increase in the Black national states. The hon member for Klip River made a plea yesterday for decentralization, which fits in beautifully with the plea I am making here.
It is one of the very strong contributory factors to the wholesale influx of Blacks to the White metropolitan areas. The origin of Crossroads and its phenomenal growth in five years from 16 000 to 80 000 is a striking example of this.
What is your solution, Jan?
You must resign and go and farm!
I am merely asking what your solution is. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, the hon member who is making a noise here at the back may be a good farmer, but I want to say he is a very poor politician. Thus far he has definitely made no success of politics. [Interjections.] That hon back-bencher should rather keep quiet. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, when we were still in the NP, we worked and pleaded for a dramatic solution to this problem.
Did you find a solution?
We were worried about and opposed to the influx of Blacks to the central White areas. The hon the Minister is aware of my personal opposition which led inter alia to an enquiry in this connection which his commission introduced under his leadership. The hon the Minister is aware of my opposition to the erection of housing for Blacks amounting to R27 million at various mines in the Kuruman constituency. It is housing which was erected more or less 60 km from Bophuthatswana—housing, schools and sporting and other facilities which could just as well have been established in Bophuthatswana. For the hon uninformed member of Heilbron, this is the solution. Rather than let development take place within the White area and erect housing within commuting distance for Blacks, the CP says one can house those Blacks just as well in their own houses in their own fatherland together with their own families and let them travel a commuting distance of 60 km per day. That was always the NP’s policy and that is the policy which the CP believes in today and which the NP has now thrown overboard.
But what does all that cost? [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, I request you to ask that back-bencher to keep quiet. [Interjections.]
Order! The hon member may proceed.
Mr Chairman, the hon the Minister supported me in this in word and deed, and I want to thank him for that today. We were all deeply worried about the fact that the number of Blacks would eventually be of crucial importance in South Africa, and that the Whites and the Coloureds would be swallowed by Blacks up in their own fatherland and in the Western Cape respectively. I went to visit President Mangope with the late Rev Koos du Plooy who was the chairman of the administration board. He told me he was very worried about the number of matriculants in his country who had to obtain work, whereas there was not work for everyone. We walked past many Tswanas who were standing around without work, but also reached one who was sitting on an automatic ditcher. I then asked President Mangope whether it would not have been a better idea not to buy the ditcher and rather to give more people employment opportunities.
The hon the Minister announced that he would have discussions with the minister of manpower of Mozambique, a communistic state, tomorrow. I want to ask him, when he has discussions with the leaders of the homelands, to appeal to them to create labour intensive undertakings in the homelands so that their people will have employment opportunities. If we can succeed in preventing the influx from the homelands to White areas and those people can accommodate their labour increase there, the hon the Minister will have far less problems with unemployment in South Africa.
In the CP, which believes unwaveringly in separate development and the creation of separate freedoms, there is even greater anxiety today that the Whites will be swallowed up by Black numbers and political rights in our own fatherland. We are not worried about the future as such, but we are very worried about what the NP is going to do with it under the leadership of the State President and the hon the Minister of Constitutional Development. I want to ask the hon Minister today whether research is constantly being done on the labour increase of Blacks, also in the national states, and if so, what percentage of the labour increase in the national states today is being supplied with employment opportunities within the national states. Has the position changed since the initial research he did with the aid of the Commission for Co-operation and Development? Is the labour increase of homeland Blacks for whom employment opportunities have to be created in the RSA still 36%, or has the position improved or deteriorated? I will be very grateful if the hon the Minister can give us replies to this. My information is that the position has deteriorated somewhat. The anxiety in the CP is increasing with the growing number of Blacks for whom employment opportunities have to be created, with the politicizing of Black trade unions and the power these trade unions have, and with the new initiatives concerning the political participation of Blacks in the government of the RSA. What does Mr Harry Oppenheimer say? The State President recently awarded him the Decoration for Meritorious Service. He says, and I quote from Die Vaderland of 14 April 1985 … [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Kuruman expressed his anxiety inter alia about the increase in the number of Blacks and the protection of the Black worker. I want to give him the assurance that this side of the House is concerned about every worker in South Africa, regardless of his race, colour, sex or whatever. South Africa has a growing and developing economy and the House appreciates the contribution of everyone who can be productive to the advantage of the country. The days of prescribing to workers on the basis of colour are past. If someone is worth his salt, he must be given the opportunity of optimally using his chance to the advantage of South Africa. I am not talking politics now. The CP is worried about the Whites, but so are all of us. I want to tell the White workers of South Africa that the NP will take care of them, as it takes care of all workers, as long as they do their bit.
South Africa’s economy cannot afford to have Whites hiding unproductively behind their white skins. Those days are past. The days are past when the Blacks had to work hard to make their contribution to the country’s economy, while the Whites stood around in the sun, talking nonsense and trying to sell cars. I do not mean to be derogatory and disparaging towards motorcar salesmen. These days everyone has to roll up his sleeves and say: “South Africa first! This is my country!” Each of us has a duty to effect a continued existence for our children in this country. Hon members of the opposition parties need therefore not trouble themselves. The National Party will see to everything in this respect as well.
You make us laugh, you know.
I am not even looking at you, for I am afraid that I may laugh. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, thus far, I believe, this has been a meaningful debate. In the course of the debate I thought of the words of Robert Louis Stevenson:
South Africa has economic problems. We really do have problems, but if we stand united, we can solve those problems.
The hon member for Pinelands spoke yesterday about the so-called “bargaining table”—the negotiation table. I can merely stress the importance of his statement. If we do not want to negotiate about labour in South Africa, if we do not want to negotiate a future together—employers, employees, trade unions and everyone who has anything to do with organized labour—it is simply the end of the economy and the politics in this country—indeed with all of us in this House.
In this process, however, we must look at certain aspects. I believe, after all, that the private sector will have to make its contribution. Today, however, I want to ask the private sector please to do even more than its share for the future of this country. An interesting article, from which I should like to quote briefly, appeared as follows in The Financial Mail of 26 April 1985:
If this is the way the private sector is talking, I believe—as the hon member for Pinelands said—that we should meet around that bargaining table and make provision for the spring and summer that are on their way. Perhaps we tend to discount certain aspects of man in this process—even to forget them. In this respect I should also like to mention the question of sheltered employment, to which the hon member for Pinelands as well as the hon member for King William’s Town and the hon the Minister himself referred. The hon the Minister rightly pointed out that we are experiencing a transitional period as far as the department in question is concerned; that at the moment perhaps we are acting as an agency—if I understood him correctly. This matter is so important, however, that we really have to direct the attention of this House to it.
I am in favour of every measure introduced for the benefit of the gifted child. I can find no fault with it. I propagate the cause of the gifted child—that he should find his proper place in life. In this process, however, we must never forget the handicapped child—every handicapped person. It does not matter whether it is someone who is handicapped physically or suffers from a mental defect, or is possibly the victim of a different kind of handicap. We must never forget these people. So many of us can simply pick and choose where we want to work. Those handicapped people cannot do so. They have to be satisfied with their fate.
When one talks to a handicapped person and asks him about his philosophy of life, he tells one his philosophy of life is based on every person having a purposeful, meaningful life, regardless of his circumstances, to the advantage of his country and fellowman and in honour of God.
I tried, by means of the department, magazines and personal conversations with handicapped people, to make an in-depth study. I want to say today that the department does very good work as far as the sheltered employment campaign and the loan subsidy scheme are concerned. I also believe that when one is giving praise, one should do so, but when one is expressing criticism, one must not hesitate to do so.
That is why I am pleading with the hon the Minister this afternoon to give more publicity to the conditions of service offered by the department for sheltered employment. One can go to many offices of the Department of Manpower and speak to the information officers there. They will tell one what schemes they can offer, but the public at large does not know of these schemes. The employer has no knowledge of the subsidies he can receive.
As far as I know, there is a wonderful magazine which is published quarterly, Rehabilitation in South Africa. In it the department invites the employers and the employees to share in what I have mentioned, but that is not sufficient. I am pleading with the hon the Minister. I am pleading with him today for the handicapped people in South Africa who are prepared to be productive, to do their share for South Africa. Give them that chance. Give these schemes wide advertising and more publicity. We need these people, just as we need everyone who is prepared to work.
Mr Chairman, I have exactly two minutes at my disposal and I have to make the most of my time. I want to congratulate the hon member for Overvaal on an excellent speech. I wish I had the time to comment on it and to respond to it.
I want to say to the hon the Minister and the hon member for Randburg that I am glad that they recognize in principle the need for some form of social security system. I think it is of the utmost importance that we should at least reach that point.
Could I ask the hon the Minister whether he would not go one step further and say that one could set up a study group, not necessarily under the Manpower group alone but a study group to look at the desirability and feasibility of such a system so that if and when the time comes when we have the money, we can go ahead and implement it if that is the outcome of that study? We have a very serious and very worsening situation in unemployment. We desperately need such a system. It would not hurt to look at least at the desirability and the feasibility of such a scheme.
Lastly I want to say a brief word about standing committees. I am astonished that so little has been said about the standing committee in this debate because this is something new. I for one think that this is a system which is eminently worthwhile. I think we have already made some progress in the Standing Committee on Manpower, and we should like to congratulate the chairman and all concerned.
I want to say very briefly in the time at my disposal that if one considers the total labour force in South Africa, one finds that it becomes rather ludicrous for White, Coloured and Indian to be locked in debate in a standing committee while the vast majority of 80% of our work force happen to be Black. If one is going to be involved in reform and if the process is important, then those people ought to be involved in the process as well. I say no more.
Mr Chairman, where we are discussing the position of the worker at present, I will probably be granted the opportunity to pay tribute to a particular group of workers here today. I am thinking of a small group of people who have devoted themselves during the past months with absolute dedication and without taking personal sacrifices of time into account, to working for the NP side in Newton Park and Harrismith.
Sir, their work was productive and I think they deserve our thanks and the thanks of this House for that.
I actually want to speak today about a topic which was raised here a number of times. It was also raised last year and I think it will be raised repeatedly in this House. I am referring to unemployment and creation of employment. The hon the Minister himself, the hon member for Pinelands and other hon members too, placed the spotlight on this. Naturally we have to differentiate between cyclic unemployment or temporary unemployment, to put it in another way, on the one hand and long-term unemployment or structural unemployment, as it is often called, on the other hand.
The hon member for Pinelands discussed both these facets. The State President’s announcement yesterday, together with the earlier announcement about the irrigation works in the Eastern Cape and also the advancement of the calling for certain tenders, as announced by the hon the Minister of Public Works, all deal with temporary unemployment. We in the Port Elizabeth/Eastern Cape area are particularly grateful to the State President and the Government for the announced employment creation programmes. I think they will probably address the greatest part of the temporary unemployment problem we have there, and I should like to convey my thanks and the thanks of my people to the Government for this.
I actually want to devote myself, however, to the long-term unemployment and the creation of employment in this connection. Last year the hon member for Alberton directed attention to the fact that the Economic Advisory Council of the then Prime Minister and the National Manpower Commission had given penetrating attention to the unemployment question even in 1979. A general strategy for the combating of unemployment, which was accepted by these bodies in 1983 and submitted to the Government, was developed from this. In 1984 a White Paper was issued by the Government, in which commentary was given on the proposals and certain steps were envisaged to encourage the provision of employment. One of the most important findings contained in the submissions and endorsed in the White Paper, is that the small business sectors and the informal sectors have to supply a large section of the total number of employment opportunities.
This is the case in other parts of the world. In Canada, for example, the small business sector supplied 30% of the employment opportunities in the period 1971-77. In Japan that sector provided 38% of the employment opportunities in the same period. It is said that a much larger percentage of the employment opportunities are provided by the small business sector and informal sector in the USA. Unfortunately I could not obtain the figures in this connection. In South Africa, however, the small business sector supplies only 10% of positions.
Unemployment—in this respect the hon member for Pinelands was not quite balanced—is not only a South African problem, but a worldwide problem. According to the UNO’s Year Book for 1979-80, unemployment has increased throughout the world. I want to give only a few examples and point out the difference in the unemployment figure between 1970 and 1978. In 1970 the unemployment figure in Belgium was 2,9%; that is, 2,9% of the work force was unemployed. In 1978 the figure in that country rose to 10,4%. In Germany in 1970 the unemployment figure was still as low as 0,7%, but in 1978 the figure rose to 4,38%. In the United Kingdom the figure was 2,6% in 1970 and in 1978 it was 6,1%. In the USA the figure was 4,9% in 1970 and 6% in 1978. In a communist country such as Yugoslavia the figure was 7,7% even in 1970, and in 1979 it was as high as 12%. Since then unemployment has continued to increase. Approximately three weeks ago discussions were held between Ministers and officials of 22 countries to work out plans to combat unemployment. It is estimated that approximately 18 million people in Europe are unemployed at present—an alarming 12% of the work force.
The prestige magazine Newsweek reported on 22 April 1985 that soup kitchens were established in Europe for the first time since 1950. In addition there are reports that an estimated 220 000 unemployed people have degenerated to such an extent in Paris that they no longer have housing, but live on the streets and in underground tunnels. It is generally accepted that the Government sector can create employment opportunities only to a limited extent by addressing labour intensive schemes which are economically justifiable. The irrigation scheme which was announced by the State President and to which I have referred, can be effected in such a way that the maximum manpower can be used.
In South Africa, just as in Europe, the small business and informal sectors are the most effective creators of job opportunities. The Government realizes this and that is why the Small Business Development Corporation was established in 1981. After this the Council for the Promotion of Small Business was created as well. I do not think it necessary to establish another committee as suggested by the hon member for Pinelands. I agree with the hon member for Roodeplaat that the existing institutions are sufficient; they must simply be utilized and used effectively. Loans are made to the small businessmen to get them going, and we need not be ashamed of this for it also happens in America.
There are a few factors, however, which are peculiar to our situation here. One of them is the increase in population. Between 1950 and 1979 we experienced a population increase of 2,6% per year. During the same period the growth in population in Europe was only 0,6%. In Russia it was 0,8%. If Europe, with its negligible population growth is accepting structural unemployment, how much more will we not have to accept it?
Another facet peculiar to our position, is a lack of schools. 87% of the unemployed Blacks have a Std 7 certificate or less. Only 3% of the Blacks with a Std 10 certificate or more are unemployed. The Government has made certain recommendations in the White Paper about its strategy for provision of employment. One of these was that where possible, local authorities should make use of labour intensive working methods. Another recommendation was that regulations which have a retarding influence on the informal sector should be abolished. I want to suggest that we choose a small businessman of the year, that is to say a small businessman who has made a good contribution to the provision of employment.
The problem of provision of employment is probably one in which every sector in South Africa will be involved. As the hon member for Pinelands said, it is “Public Enemy No 1”.
†However, I would also like to call it “Public Opportunity No 1”, if we only bear in mind that we can use the small business sector to combat unemployment.
*We shall only be able to overcome the problem of employment creation in South Africa if we become a country of entrepreneurs instead of a country of employees.
Mr Chairman, I trust the hon member for Port Elizabeth North will forgive me for not reacting to his well-prepared speech on the provision of employment and on unemployment. I wish to congratulate the HSRC and the National Training Board on the comprehensive report on the training of artisans in the RSA which was released recently. This is a comprehensive report and comes at a time when it is in the country’s interests to take a fresh look at the training of apprentices and artisans.
In terms of the new constitutional dispensation, education is largely an own affair under a single Ministry for the various population groups, and this affords an opportunity for a uniform educational system for the pupils who later want to become artisans. I should like to confine myself to the training of apprentices and refer to certain respects of the training of apprentices in the motor industry.
The joint report of the HSRC and the National Training Board deals with all facets of apprentice training and makes recommendations which are in line with the White Paper on the provision of education in the Republic of South Africa. Unfortunately, specific reference is not made in the report to the role of informal and non-formal education in the training of apprentices. As the report recommends, this aspect ought to be investigated in depth before a decision is taken on changes in the system of training for apprentices.
There are many pupils in schools for special education who possess the necessary psychomotor and other characteristics such as perseverance and enthusiasm but who are doing courses that are not comparable with the minimum education requirements set for apprenticeship training. These pupils are learning skills such as woodwork, welding and panelbeating but cannot make a living in any of these industries because due to the modular structuring of the courses their academic training is not comparable with the ordinary academic training. Many pupils who would otherwise be able to become artisans are accordingly lost to further education and are denied the right to develop to their maximum potential. It is high time that informal and non-formal education be accorded the necessary recognition in the training of apprentices, and my appeal is that the Training Board waste no time in considering the components of the system of education.
Although the enquiry gave in-depth consideration to all the factors affecting the training of apprentices, I find it a pity that an enquiry was not also instituted into the problems that arise when an apprentice or artisan wishes to acquire further qualifications. It ought to be possible for any apprentice or artisan to become qualified for the highest managerial post in a technikon. It must also be possible for an artisan or apprentice to follow courses at a technikon that will enable him to register as a professional engineer. Moreover, no distinction ought to be drawn as regards the requirements for the granting of a Government certificate of competence to a graduate, and to an apprentice or artisan with a technikon diploma. The highest qualification that an apprentice can obtain at a technikon is a National Technical Diploma. As a result of this restriction many young men are not inclined to enrol as an apprentice. This is a great pity, because with a fully-fledged apprenticeship training, the associated experience as an artisan and the theoretical training that a technikon could offer, a young man who wants to qualify as a professional engineer in this way could make a major contribution to the industrial development of our country.
At the time of the investigation 34 411 artisans and 9 847 apprentices were employed in the motor industry. Of these, 909 were Black artisans and 1 346 were Black apprentices. Since Black apprentices have been admitted since 1980 it is clear that an insufficient number of Black artisans are being trained to satisfy the need of industries developing within Black communities and towns, and attention will have to be given to this problem too. I welcome the recommendation that the trades be rationalized, because this can only lead to better training and greater mobility of artisans, particularly in view of the Government’s policy of creating decentralized growth points. I should also like to see the enquiry including the training requirements set by local authorities in regard to certain trades. Here I refer inter alia to plumbers and electricians who, besides their trade tests, have to be certified by local authorities before being able to wire up a house or lay drainage pipes. It seems to me that it is wrong that bodies like local authorities should also be able to lay down qualifications for certain trades in addition to the qualifications laid down by the National Training Board.
As regards the artisan in the motor industry, I think that the modular courses that are recommended and the recognition of non-formal education components in the training of the apprentice, particularly the aptitude testing before training, will help to improve the quality of the training. Unfortunately I do not believe that the recommendations contained in the report will be sufficient to attract the right people to the motor industry. In the case of the apprentice in the motor industry I should like to see consideration being given to ways to increase the status of the motor mechanic. For example, consideration could be given to making provision in the training for the power to examine vehicles for roadworthiness in terms of the Road Traffic Ordinance. If a mechanic could obtain this power by way of a licence it would increase his prestige or status considerably within an organization or enterprise and this could serve as a motivation for young men to qualify in this occupation.
Why is it not necessary for the person who examines a vehicle for roadworthiness to be qualified as a mechanic, whereas the mechanic, who possesses the highest technical qualifications, is not permitted to certify as roadworthy a vehicle which he himself has repaired? Careful consideration will have to be given to ways to motivate the young Black man to qualify as a motor mechanic, since there is a growing need for mechanics in the Black cities.
I wish to thank the hon the Minister, the Director General and his staff for their initiative in tabling the findings and recommendations of this enquiry at this specific time when fresh consideration is being given to the constitutional development of the country.
Mr Chairman, it is the ideal of any patriotic politician to make a great speech, a great national speech, one day. You know, Sir, one wants to get the masses together and convey a great message to them. That is my ideal too. I, too, should like to convey a great message to the masses of South Africa. However, that message must not merely be a great message; it must also be a simple message. Since 10 minutes is not enough for me to convey it in one debate, I should like to begin to convey that message today and then I shall continue that message every time I have a turn to speak. That message will be very simple: It will be the message of balance and equilibrium.
I should like to begin today by participating in this debate, which I described as an “asbestos debate”. It is true that there is a great asbestos debate in progress and it is fortunate that I can discuss this question of asbestos under almost any Vote. Under the Manpower Vote, under which the Unemployment Insurance Act and, in particular, the Workmen’s Compensation Act also fall, specific provision is made in the schedule to the Workmen’s Compensation Act for asbestosis, mesothelioma and problems of that nature. This department also administers the Machinery and Occupational Safety Act, 1983. The Department of Health and Welfare, in turn, administers the matter of the diagnosis of these cases, while the Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs is responsible for the administration of laws applicable when a person works in the mines themselves. Therefore if one works in a mine or in the mills, or if one works in a cement or asbestos factory and contracts an illness or sustains an injury that has to be diagnosed, and which results in one’s having to be compensated, then one deals with various departments.
As regards this discussion about asbestos which is now in progress throughout the world, I said initially that I wanted to make a great national speech one day and that I would appeal for balance. One often finds in life that the pendulum swings. Sometimes it swings right over to one side. People were not aware of the dangers of asbestos, did not perceive the problem and did nothing about it. Then people began to become aware of the dangers of asbestos. And what has happened now? That pendulum has now swung right across to the other side. Now we have an insistence from various quarters—I want to pursue my argument in the debate on Mineral and Energy Affairs and go into the details at that stage—that asbestos should be done away with completely. We must now close factories.
The pendulum has swung much too far and I am going to try to restore the balance. At present approximately 4 million tons of asbestos is produced in this country. In 1974 it was more than 5 million tons and in 1878 it was 50 tons. This asbestos plays a tremendously important role in the economy. It is true that there is a place for asbestos but, as is the case with many other materials produced and goods used, it entails dangers. Therefore we must consider these dangers.
It is said that no legislation exists whereby to do this. In November 1983 the International Labour Organization issued this booklet entitled Safety in the use of Asbestos and I must say that we in South Africa not only satisfied every requirement set by this book; we do a great deal more. For example, there is a provision to the effect that the dust standard should be no more than 2 fibres per ml, whereas many of our businesses have scaled this down to one fibre per ml and some have even scaled it down to 0,5 fibres per ml. Therefore we are not merely complying with their requirements; we are improving on them.
I shall say more on this subject in my next chapter.
Mr Chairman, I wish to begin with the hon member Dr Vilonel who referred to the matter of asbestosis and the danger this holds but also to what is being done about it in South Africa. In passing I want to say that the protection of the safety and the health of the worker is naturally a very serious matter to this department. From the nature of the case we are very insistent that the worker should operate in a safe place where his health is not in jeopardy. Nevertheless the hon member made a valid statement that an almost hysterical campaign was being conducted against the use of asbestos which I think was becoming a little remote from reality. It was therefore perhaps necessary for the hon member Dr Vilonel to restore a measure of balance to the debate.
Mr Chairman, may I ask the hon the Minister how much money is spent by the asbestos-mining and manufacturing companies to prevent the disease as compared to the amount of money spent by tobacco farmers and tobacco companies to prevent smoking-related diseases?
I am not altogether a walking encyclopaedia but what I am able to tell the hon member is that great concern and alarm is prevalent at asbestos mines. I visited them in the Kuruman region, the Penge asbestos mine in my own electoral division and elsewhere and these people are very concerned about their market.
They are spending a great deal of money.
They are doing so. I am impressed by the seriousness with which these people are controlling the matter.
And the tobacco farmers?
The tobacco farmers are naturally also concerned over the health of their clients. They are prepared to make their contribution too. [Interjections.]
What about the maize farmers?
What is the hon member’s problem about the maize farmers?
Order! Let us confine ourselves to manpower.
The hon member for Maraisburg spoke here about the training of apprentices and especially about the entrance requirements for apprenticeship where certain people could not obtain entry because their academic training was inadequate. The hon member also referred to the matter of local authorities which required an artisan to complete further tests before he could work there. I shall go into that specific matter and report back to the hon member.
I take pleasure in getting to the hon member for Port Elizabeth North. He made a very interesting speech here in which he once again touched upon the very real question of unemployment. He also indicated clearly that unemployment was actually a structural problem in South Africa already and that when one examined unemployment, one could do no other than look at the increase in population in the country as well.
Much has been said on unemployment but I want to sketch a few points again. Firstly, unemployment is a worldwide phenomenon and problem. Secondly, an instant solution to unemployment is not available anywhere. Thirdly, it is not the Government’s duty to create work in the first instance but that of the private sector.
If one examines all the measures taken to combat unemployment, the only long-term solution to the problem is and remains a high economic growth-rate—the highest possible rate reconcilable with the natural resources in South Africa and not in conflict with our other national objectives. If we look at those estimates, we see South Africa will have to grow by more than 5,6% per annum if we wish to provide adequate job opportunities for our rapidly increasing population. I wish to say here today that no country can sustain growth of 5,6% per annum over an extended period; it therefore speaks for itself that the problem of unemployment will also have to be viewed very seriously from the other side—that of population growth.
I wish to repeat that the Government feels especially sympathetic towards our unemployed. I think there is nothing more terrible for a person than to be unable to find employment when he is prepared to work and when his family has a need of money. In this connection the hon the Minister of Finance announced that the Government would vote R100 million for this purpose; in addition I myself made an announcement yesterday on the training of the unemployed. I wish to say that this training for which R25 million has been voted is an imaginative project.
When one trains someone who is unemployed—we particularly wish to direct the training at those areas where shortages will arise when the economic upswing occurs—one places such a person in a much better position actually to acquire work. I also want to mention that during training these people will receive some small remuneration to keep body and soul together.
†The hon member for Pinelands asked whether the department could set up a study to investigate the feasibility of a social security scheme for South Africa. My reply is that this is a matter I can investigate. However, I believe it is an issue which may be covered by a broader investigation which is being undertaken by the Human Sciences Research Council. If this is the case, the department and the National Manpower Commission will naturally be involved.
*The hon member for Walmer touched on quite a number of points and also put many questions. I wish to say to him—as it appears somewhere in Proverbs—that his questions were not put out of wisdom in all cases. This hon member had much to criticize as regards the matter of the Industrial Court, as well as the staff and so on. I wish to mention to the hon member that we did not merely sit with folded hands and do nothing about the problem; on the contrary, the entire structure of posts as regards the Industrial Court was upgraded. The position of president has now been placed on an equal footing with that of a deputy director-general. We also examined the entire remuneration package of the court and fringe benefits granted to Public Servants are also available now to those appointed to the Industrial Court. In consequence we are optimistic that we will be able to appoint more people permanently to be able to shoulder the increasing activities—the increasingly onerous load—of the Industrial Court.
†The hon member also referred to the status and functions of the industrial court. The National Manpower Commission has investigated these aspects, and amendments to the legislation will be considered in the light of comments received. In this regard the hon member may be well advised not to rely too much on Press statements. The criticism that judgments do sometimes conflict, also applies to ordinary courts. That is a fact which nobody can dispute. It must be remembered that the industrial court is one of equity—“’n hof van billikhede”—and therefore differs from other courts. The judgment given by the industrial court which was referred to did not brand the court as a Government agency; the Press, however, did. According to the judgment which was given, the industrial court is an administrative court. That was the ruling, and an administrative court is quite different from a government agency.
*I now come to the hon member for Rand-burg. He pointed out the increase in applications for conciliation boards, the increased use of the Industrial Court and actually made the point that the machinery for settling differences was being used increasingly. He also indicated, however, that there were considerably more strikes in 1984 than in 1983. Nevertheless when one examines the incidence of strikes, I think one should not only take a difference from year to year into consideration but one should look more at the tendency in the long term. It is true for example that the strike figure for 1982 was appreciably higher than for 1983. I think we should also accept that under present circumstances employers are less readily prepared to grant wage increases as we are experiencing an economic recession. On the other hand the employees’ living conditions are also more difficult in consequence of inflation and as a result there is an increasing demand for higher wages and salaries. On the other hand there is employer resistance. Viewed in this light, I think one should expect that there will be more strikes.
The hon member also raised the important matter of the prevention of conflict. That is a very important concept and something one does not perhaps always consider thoroughly. In order to settle disputes one should not actually start only when there is a problem; one should prevent a problem from arising. In this connection I wish to say that employers who maintain good communication with their corps of employees can identify problem areas in very good time. Frequently problems are dealt with and solved before a dispute arises. The hon member for Kuruman referred to the protection of workers, also against immigrants. We do protect the local worker against immigrants because the Immigrants’ Selection Board consults my department regularly to ascertain in which fields there are shortages and in which not. For example, we do not permit certain artisans if there are no shortages in that discipline in South Africa.
The hon member also referred to the protection of the worker which is something close to my heart as well. I wish to give him a short summary of the protection of the rights of workers. They are protected by a legal framework which is continually being adapted to the demands of the time in consultation with employees and employers and which offers the maximum opportunity for self-determination to each worker or group of workers. Further there is the right to establish an autonomous and officially recognized trade union of his own choice which he manages himself and which can act on his behalf and represent his interests in labour matters by way of collective bargaining. There is an industrial board and conciliation board system for the conclusion of legally binding agreements with employers. Then there is also official machinery for the settlement of disputes comprising industrial councils, conciliation boards, mediators, arbitrators and referees. The worker also has access to the Industrial Court in the case of an alleged unfair labour practice, access to the Industrial Registrar and access to the Minister of Manpower. Legal use of strikes as a weapon may be applied after all the prescribed procedures have been complied with. There is also legal protection against victimization. Trade union federations are consulted at the highest level regarding policy matters. The Wage Board investigates conditions of service while there is protection against unemployment by means of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Then there is also protection against injury on duty and occupational diseases and the protection of safe workplaces and circumstances. A worker also has access to the Industrial Court to be reinstated in his employment and to obtain an order for the reinstatement of conditions of employment and negotiation. Free employment and vocational guidance services are supplied as well as protection against exploitation by private employment bodies. There is also the right to negotiate a closed-shop agreement. A further aspect is the maintenance of standards in the training process and in the case of trade testing. By way of his trade union an artisan may obtain a say in training committees in order to ensure the maintenance of high standards to protect his occupation. The principle of the rate for the job is also maintained. By means of their trade unions and industrial councils artisans can protect their position by guarding against fragmentation and the downgrading of skilled work.
Consequently there is a mass of measures by which the position of the worker is protected.
The hon member for Overvaal referred to sheltered employment. Although this has been identified as an own affair, I should still like to say to the hon member that since last year’s debate problems have, in fact, been experienced in the sale of products but that new arrangements have been made with the Treasury and the Government buyer so that factories for sheltered employment are placed in a very favourable position and they and the Department of Prisons are approached first before tenders are called for. The position has therefore improved appreciably there in that sales from those factories have been stabilized.
The next point to which I should like to refer is that connected with subsidizing. As the hon member will probably know, we subsidize the deficits those factories show on their operating accounts and we also attempt to place and maintain as many people as possible in employment there.
Furthermore the hon member for Overvaal made an appeal here on behalf of handicapped people.
He grossly insulted the White worker!
No, wait a bit! I am busy talking to the hon member.
The department has great appreciation for private employers who help where they can as regards handicapped people. I wish to mention to the hon member what the department has done from its side. By extending the scheme for workseekers to the handicapped as well, the department has also attempted to assist those people. At present training is supplied to the handicapped at the Apex Training Centre near Benoni. This is a result of the initiatives taken by the department in this respect. Last year I was privileged to present certificates to the first group of candidates which qualified there and would subsequently take up a fully fledged position in the work situation. Nevertheless I greatly appreciate the hon member’s interest in the handicapped. From the side of this department as well everything possible is being done to place the handicapped in employment and so make them self-supporting.
Mr Chairman, I have reached the end of my address but I should like to thank all hon members for their contributions to this debate. I thank them in particular for the high level at which they conducted the debate. In conclusion I wish to point out that the field of labour and labour forces in South Africa is such a sensitive and important one in our country that I believe we cannot afford to drag this entire field into the political arena. I naturally appreciate that hon members participated in this debate with great prudence.
It is true that one accomplishes the greatest degree of labour peace with the least interference from the side of the Government. Labour peace is basically the relation between an employer and an employee; the two of them must get on and live together like man and wife. That is why it is a good thing that there should be minimum interference from the side of the Government, that there should be maximum autonomy and the right to self-determination on the side of the employer and the employee and that we should attempt further to keep the labour field—which is a very sensitive one and can therefore easily be exploited—outside the political arena.
Vote agreed to.
Chairman directed to report progress and ask leave to sit again.
Progress reported and leave granted to sit again.
Vote No 3—“Education and Culture”:
Mr Chairman, the Department of Education and Culture has the task of providing and continually reviewing White education. It does this in accordance with the Acts regulating education and in conjunction with constitutional development.
The decisions recently announced by the hon the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning entail a further deployment of constitutional structures. Further rationalization within the educational system for Whites has now also become imperative. His announcement that provincial councils are being phased out not only gives momentum to constitutional development but also presupposes a reallocation of legislative and administrative functions in respect of education. On the one hand it is clear that the future dispensation of administrators and executive committees concerns general affairs. On the other hand it is clear that the vacuum caused by the disappearance of provincial councils as regards the control of education should be filled as soon as possible by this department and by structures of its creation.
The announcement of the phasing out of provincial councils is timeous. It now enables this department to convert White education to a new dispensation and to eliminate uncertainties as soon as possible.
The question may justifiably be asked whether the department is prepared to deal with the essential and inevitable adjustments to the education system for Whites. It gives me pleasure to be able to tell you that the department has used the eight months of its existence productively in preparing itself for its new responsibilities. The task now imposed upon it by further constitutional development was anticipated.
Exhaustive research has already been instituted into the rationalization of the provision of education and constructive content can now be given to the new dispensation. The department has reinforced its expertise for this purpose. Of cardinal importance is the existing well-organized and co-ordinated infrastructure of provincial education departments together with the Committee of Heads of Education with all its subcommittees and other professional teaching bodies. We shall build further on these foundations to co-ordinate learning content and conditions of service in accordance with the appropriate norms and standards. Provision will still be made, however, for the diversity required by circumstances.
In terms of the Constitution and the recently announced Government decisions on provincial reform, Education Ordinances will become the responsibility of this department. They will therefore be incorporated into the Acts administered by this department including general education, budgetary, personnel, co-ordinating and broad executive policy.
The department will plan and institute the new educational dispensation according to the following guidelines:
As first principle I refer to the devolution of authority and responsibility. The provision of education at the formal level is a responsibility of the State but the individual, parents and organized society should have a shared responsibility and say in this respect. The private sector and the State bear the coresponsibility of furnishing non-formal education. In providing education a balance should therefore be struck between centralization and decentralization. The devolution of power involved here does not comprise administrative functions only but also policymaking power which this department allocates to provincial education authorities.
The department decidedly does not see itself as an overall bureaucracy. It is an umbrella department mainly responsible for formulating policy and providing and co-ordinating education. In reallocating functions in a democratic manner the department intends retaining and protecting existing structures, processes, participation and vested interests as far as possible. It is of primary importance to me that the distinctive character of education in the respective provinces be preserved and perpetuated. The democratization of education will not be promoted by a clumsy unitary system of control over White education; on the contrary, it is best served by the devolution of power.
†The State’s partners in education, namely the organized parent bodies, the organized profession, the broad community and the private sector, should have a joint responsibility for the provision of education. It remains a fact that, should any one of the partners I have just mentioned be deprived of meaningful participation, education will be deprived of the valuable manpower and input of that partner. Their participation and input are indispensable to link education with the character, values and needs of the community it serves as well as the economic development and manpower requirements which must be met. It is therefore a high priority that the participation and co-responsibility of the various partners in education be taken into account when functions are re-allocated. An investigation in this regard, in which the interested parties are also involved, is already under way.
The following matter ties up with what I have said. An education policy and a system for the provision of education which are not sufficiently differentiated and closely linked with the character and spiritual needs of the communities served are unpopular and inadequate. Furthermore, provision for education which is not sufficiently sensitive to economic realities and manpower requirements is inefficient and not cost-effective. I therefore regard it as of the utmost importance that the department should have meaningful sounding-boards, that is to say, a sufficient number of advisory boards, liaison procedures and mechanisms for consultation, through which its partners in education will have sufficient say and bear co-responsibility.
An investigation, led by the Chief Executive Director, was undertaken into the rationalization of the existing professional structures and procedures in teaching. This report has already been submitted to me. I can testify to the great measure of agreement in educational circles on the content of the report. I am convinced that, with the rationalization envisaged, the department will be able to develop a simple and streamlined infrastructure of mechanisms for advice, liaison and participation. The co-operation of the parties concerned with the department will enable White education to function as one effective and coherent unit.
In this regard I envisage that provision will have to be made for the organized parent community, as in the case of the organized teaching profession, to obtain statutory recognition and a say in matters higher than those at the local level. Measures to achieve this will be initiated shortly.
*The finer details in connection with the devolution of power and responsibility are being worked out now. As has already been said, the existing provincial education departments, functioning well as they do, will be retained. They will continue to fulfil their functions as usual. In order to implement this intention of devolving authority and responsibility, suitable structures for provincial education departments will have to be considered.
A model with distinct possibilities and warranting further investigation is an education council for each department of education on which the education partners in the province and in the Department of Education and Culture will be represented. In this way the distinctive character of education in each province may be maintained and promoted.
The next guideline is the maintenance of standards in education. An accepted criterion for excellence in education should continue to be maintained and pursued. In the new educational dispensation for Whites, as in the case of other population groups, the financial realities in the RSA will of necessity have to be taken into account.
The Government has accepted the principle of parity in education and indicated that the pursuit of the principle will not take place at the expense of standards. I wish to repeat this but I also want to add: In its maintenance of standards, the State is entitled to the support of its partners. The highest possible cost-effectiveness will always have to be pursued in education. In this regard it is important not to rely solely on increasing budgets for the maintenance of standards. Close attention will also have to be paid to the optimal use of facilities, staff potential and the availability of time, etc.
It will be the responsibility of this department to co-ordinate and regulate the allocation of funds to our own education departments and autonomous tertiary institutions in accordance with general norms and standards. The department has already also instituted extensive investigations into the elimination of unnecessary duplication. Networks into which existing services such as curriculum development, information retrieval and computer and media services can be integrated, without physically transferring or centralizing them, are being considered. Such a measure will save on costs and be more effective.
†For the efficient handling of its functions in respect of tertiary education, the department is in the process of staffing its section for tertiary education with experts. In its administration of the Acts relating to the 11 universities and 8 technikons, the department will follow certain guidelines which must be interpreted in their coherence with each other: Recognition of the autonomy of these institutions; recognition of the regulating function of the State in respect of the entire tertiary education sector; acceptance of the fact that the Government, in the spirit of the Constitution, regards it as its task to protect the own interests and institutions of population group and recognition of the privilege of one population group to render services, on a limited and controlled scale, to other population groups which do not as yet have such facilities at their disposal.
In respect of the tertiary education sector there is also the need for liaison mechanisms with this department. This matter is at present receiving urgent attention.
The Department of Education and Culture of this House fully realizes that it cannot fulfil its task in isolation. It is the desire of the department to promote positive attitudes towards other population groups at all levels. For this reason the department will, as far as possible, and for as long as it is required to do so by other population groups, continue to render services by means of expert advice, the provision of media services and applicable research findings and insights, and the conducting of certain examinations on behalf of other education departments. Just as the department will continuously strive to advance and preserve that which is peculiar to Whites, so will it also continue to promote knowledge of and a positive attitude towards other population groups. In the same spirit of goodwill this department also wishes to promote sound co-operation at the level of general affairs. When the hon the Minister of National Education consults with other Ministers before determining general policy, the Department of Education and Culture will make its contribution with all the expertise which White education has at its disposal, and in a spirit of co-responsibility.
*May I point out in conclusion that this department has a formidable task. Within the new dispensation and as figures currently stand, the White professional teaching staff in the pre-tertiary sector numbers 55 000.
There are about 12 000 lecturers attached to tertiary educational institutions and the total budget for White education will amount to approximately R3 billion. A department managing a matter as comprehensive and as sensitive and formative as education needs calm and responsible partners. May I therefore appeal to everyone not to abuse educational structures as instruments of political power. Conflict in education, especially at local level, is counter-productive for everyone and especially not conducive to educational partnership. May I also appeal to you to conduct the debate on education here in the House of Assembly today and tomorrow at such a level that we may set an exemplary model to all concerned with White education at other levels.
Mr Chairman, having listened very carefully to the hon the Minister, I cannot decide whether I should feel happy or sad at this particular stage. However, I think that from the hon the Minister’s address there is reason to feel both happy and sad. I think that during the course of my address to the House, I might point out those things which I think are very sad indeed, as well as those things which are cause for some happiness.
Normally speaking, at a time such as this where one is entering a new era in education, one would hope that one could congratulate the Government on bringing about significant changes and one would hope that one could say that one believed that these changes would bring about big improvements in the education of the people in our society and that this boded well for the future of our country. I had hoped that that was possible, but I believe that the Government has once again, with the system that it has devised for education whereby it has structured education strictly along racial lines, made a fundamental error of judgment and that it has laid the foundations for future problems in the interracial arena. I think that that is most unfortunate.
I think I should very quickly go back to the motivation for the report of the De Lange Committee, that is the motivation for the work done by the De Lange Committee and the purpose of the recommendations contained in the committee’s report. One must remember that the Government decided to appoint that committee and to give it a mandate to make a substantial study of education largely as a result of the unrest, the conflict and the confrontation that had taken place in Black communities and at Black schools. That committee, after carrying out a very substantial and scientific investigation into the whole problem, came to the conclusion that there was only one way in which one could remove the suspicion and unhappiness of the other race groups as regards education and that was to bring about a situation which would allow equal education and equal educational opportunities, and which would manifestly remove the obvious injustices and inequities that existed within that system. Central to that recommendation was the creation of a single Ministry of Education which would have been charged with the responsibility of achieving those ends set out in the principles of the De Lange Committee’s report and which the Government largely accepted in their White Paper. [Interjections.]
With the creation of separate racial departments of education, the Government has in fact effectively negated and frustrated that fundamental aspect of the De Lange Committee’s report and recommendations. [Interjections.] So instead of moving away from apartheid, we have actually moved closer to apartheid in education in South Africa. [Interjections.] I think that that is most unfortunate. I accept that the Government—as the hon the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning has often said—operates under certain emotional and political constraints. It feels that it cannot go beyond a certain point with reform, and it has felt that it had to preserve apartheid in education, in the residential areas, and in the political and constitutional sphere in South Africa. I also accept that at this stage we cannot change it. We will change it in due course through consistent and intelligent pressure on the Government, as we have done in the past.
Under those circumstances, however, I would during the course of my speech like to suggest some remedies that could be applied now to overcome the unfortunate consequences of this shortsighted policy that the Government has embarked on now as a means of racial and political expediency. I just want to make one point to the Government: Remember your past mistakes, the numerous mistakes you have made in the past when you sought, through legislation, to separate the peoples of South Africa into different camps—as the hon member for Helderkruin has in fact set out in the booklet that he has written. I also want to say to the Government: Do not commit yourself absolutely dogmatically to apartheid in the schools and the residential areas for the future because as sure as God made little apples, you will have to swallow those words as well in the near future.
We should be building bridges, and there is no better place in our society at which to start with the building of bridges than at the school level. Prejudice which is at the very foundation of all our interracial problems thrives on interracial and intercultural ignorance. That results from a lack of understanding among people from different cultures and different backgrounds and is a direct consequence of a lack of effective communication. I believe the Government in the establishment of separate education departments has in fact forfeited a golden and wonderful opportunity to bring about means of communication between the various race groups in our country.
One of the greatest tragedies and one of the reasons why separate education in a multi-racial society can never be equal is that one is actually depriving the children of our nation of the opportunity of communicating across racial and ethnic lines and learning to understand one another and to co-operate with one another. That is the greatest tragedy of this system of the Government. They are depriving the future citizens of this country of an opportunity to get to know one another in their formative years. In fact, they are also creating a system which will inevitably result in instilling in our citizens prejudices which will lead to conflict in future.
Very briefly, we have certain problems as a result of this own affairs system of education. Every year it has been our privilege to ask questions about education in South Africa as a whole. We have been able to argue in terms of the information that we have received by way of questions in Parliament regarding Black, Coloured, Indian and White education. We have been able to draw the attention of the House to the inequities which have existed, and we have been able to petition the Government to do something about those inequalities and those injustices. Since the beginning of this year, however, I cannot ask a question about Coloured or Indian education. I have no idea what is happening there. [Interjections.] If I want to know what is happening in Coloured and Indian education I have to ask one of my colleagues to put a question on their Order Paper. The Government has once again erected barriers among the various race groups so that it is not possible for us to have discussions with one another and it is not possible for us to have a situation where we can share experiences and skills and, as a result of that sharing and debate, bring about an improvement in the education of all the groups of our society.
There are so many disadvantages of separate education. I do not have the time to go into all of them. I should, however, like to mention just one which was brought to my attention the other day. In any normal society in a village like Port Elizabeth …
… town or city like Port Elizabeth, if there was maintenance to be done at the schools, one would send a team to Port Elizabeth for one morning to do the maintenance of their schools. If an inspector had to visit those schools he would be sent there to inspect all those schools. Under the system which has been devised by this Government one would have to send a Coloured maintenance team, a Black maintenance team, a White maintenance team and an Indian maintenance team, and if one wants to send inspectors to that city to inspect those schools, one has to send an inspector of every race group. One cannot send one inspector or one maintenance team only.
Order! I regret that the hon member’s time has expired.
Mr Chairman, I merely rise to give the hon member an opportunity to complete his speech. [Interjections.]
The point I want to make is that the duplication and the extra costs and complications which are introduced by this complex system of education are contrary to the interests of all the people of our society.
May I just make this point. Very recently the hon the Minister in answer to a question said that he could not answer questions with regard to the provinces because that was their responsibility. I would like the hon the Minister to give me an absolute assurance that if I should ask a question about leaking taps and dirty toilets, and weeds growing on the sidewalks of a school in Naboomspruit, the hon the Minister would answer that question, because in the past my colleague in the Transvaal Provincial Council could ask that question. What I want to ask—the hon the Minister can reply to this question—is for an assurance that there will be absolute accountability in this House in regard to every aspect of White education throughout South Africa. [Interjections.]
At the moment we get the worst of both worlds. When one centralizes upwards and decentralizes downwards, one leaves a large gap in the centre. Who is going to fill that? If there is no political body at the provincial level where the public has elected representatives to look after its interests, how are those matters going to be dealt with if we are not allowed to deal with them and the body which is dealing with them at the moment has been destroyed?
I would like to put one point to the hon the Minister for his consideration. It is a matter in which I have been interested for a very long time and it is that I believe that many of the logistical, planning and control problems of education could be solved if one decentralized to local government certain aspects of the provision of education. I am referring specifically to those dealing with the physical facilities, namely the planning of the establishment and building of schools. This would take into account various town-planning aspects such as the planning of streets, parks, fields and libraries all of which should be associated with the situation of schools in all towns. With the central and provincial Government in charge, schools are at present situated in the most peculiar places. No thought is given to the harmonizing and integrating of the schools with other facilities. That would of course leave the educational aspects firmly in the hands of the department concerned.
The hon the Minister has in his speech answered many of the questions which I wanted to put to him. According to the speech of the hon the Minister I assume—if my deduction is correct—that certain matters will still largely be in the hands of the provincial structures such as they will be after having been partially destroyed by the Government. I am referring to matters such as those dealing with curriculae, the supply systems of school books, the expenditure on education—we know that every province has a different per capita expenditure—the standards of examinations and the training and conditions of employment of teachers.
I would also like the hon the Minister once again to give us an updated version of what the situation is in regard to fees that are to be paid by parents. There is still a great deal of uncertainty and unhappiness over this matter. I would like the hon the Minister to give South Africa the assurance that not a single child will be denied a good education for the simple reason that his parents cannot afford to pay for it. With the introduction of these fees that becomes a distinct possibility as far as the lower income group families are concerned where they have problems in clothing and feeding their children and keeping them at school. I am also not at all certain that schools are going to be happy to be lumbered with the responsibility of both collecting and administering these funds. I think there may be wastage and dissipation of those funds unless effective systems are developed. I feel it may be necessary for the Government to think again about these matters.
I want to refer briefly to private schools in South Africa in general. This is one of the remedies for the apartheid system which is built into our education. I believe the Government should actively encourage by means of financial and logistical support the establishment of as many private schools in South Africa as possible. Those schools should be subsidized by the Government and they should be totally free of all racial restrictions. I would like to see the hon the Minister about projects of this nature which are at present being tackled in South Africa.
The next remedy that I should like to suggest to this hon Minister, is to allow multiracial school sport and to remove the restrictions which apply to schools at the moment preventing them from practising sport against schools of other race groups. I wonder if the hon the Minister can tell me whether he has been an observer at an athletics meeting, a tennis or soccer match or a swimming gala between Black and White children—or Coloured and White children, as the case may be. Has the hon the Minister experienced that? Sir, I have experienced that, and the joy and excitement when children from different racial backgrounds have an opportunity to compete on the sportsfield and the positive results which flow from it in terms of the improvement of race relations is something which is well worth being part of and observing. Now surely, if the Government does not want to allow the children to go to school together at this stage, cannot it then relax to the extent that it will allow them to practise sport together? I can think of no other area in which one can break down racial prejudice more effectively and bring about effective contact and co-operation among children than on the sportsfield.
The third remedy I want to suggest applies to universities, technikons and colleges—in other words third-tier education. I do not accept but can understand the hon the Minister’s difficulties about opening Government schools to all races. I can understand that, but there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for applying apartheid at the third tier of education because at that level one is producing the future leaders of our society as a whole. One is producing the people who will lead this society in commerce, industry, science and education and at every single other level. It is absolutely vital for the future peace, prosperity and stability of our country that there should be the maximum amount of contact and communication among those people. The third level of education offers the best possible way for that to happen. Therefore, I believe the third level of education should immediately be transferred to the Department of National Education. It should under no circumstances be considered an own affair in a multi-ethnic society. I believe these bodies should have total autonomy to admit whom they wish to at any time they want to admit them.
I want to say something very quickly about the possible use of unused White school facilities. A report which appeared very recently states that since 1980 as a result of the low birth rate of the Whites enrolment of grade 1 and 2 pupils has dropped by 13 068—tantamount to leaving 400 classrooms empty. The fact of the matter is that there are schools and classrooms standing empty throughout South Africa. There are White schoolteachers who are unemployed, for personal reasons or because they do not have jobs. These facilities must be used to assist the other race groups where there are huge shortages. The report also states that in 1983 there was a White baby boom. I was wondering why that was and then remembered that that was the year of the referendum, when Cabinet Ministers used to appear on television for 90% of the time for news and some other programmes, so I thought that that must have given the nation a lot of indigestion and when indigestion keeps one awake, one might as well make babies. [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, before dealing with certain matters raised by the hon member for Bryanston I want to begin by thanking the hon the Minister—who is today for the first time dealing with the Education and Culture Vote as such—for what he has already done since taking office. In the second place we also wish to say to him that we have high appreciation for what he is still going to do for this exceptionally important department in future, also in the interests of education at all levels affecting the Whites. Allow me, too, to say to the chief executive officer, Dr Jooste, that we are gratified that he and his team are also making their skills available to White education in the Republic of South Africa. We profoundly appreciate the work that is being done in that regard.
It was with great interest that I perused the brilliant annual report, which contains such a wealth of data and statistics. Unfortunately the time available for the discussion of the Vote is inadequate to allow me to go into this in detail and express an appreciation for all the good work done by the department. However, I want to say to the officials that we have great appreciation for the way in which they bring us up to date with the activities of the department.
Among the wide range of work done by the Department, one aspect in particular interests me, viz the examination sector of the Department. In this regard there are some things I should like to place on record. There are no fewer than 535 examination centres controlled by the Department, whereas 2 110 502 candidates enrolled for the Department’s examinations. There were more than half a million enrolments for various subjects, while examinations were conducted in 2 220 subjects. In spite of this only 39 instances of irregularities were investigated and disposed of, and as a former teacher, I can attest to the fact that this is an achievement.
This sector that is concerned with examinations issued 46 838 certificates in respect of examinations conducted in November 1983 and in March, April, June and August 1984. I think that the great task performed in this regard deserves praise and appreciation from all of us.
I also wish to convey my thanks and appreciation, in the first place, to the teachers who perform such an important task. One could wax lyrical about this but I shall leave it at that and merely place on record that we have the utmost appreciation for what they do. In the second place there is of course the involvement of the parents at so many different levels. It could be argued that parents could sometimes be more involved, but in general we sincerely appreciate the role they play. In the third place there are the many bodies of control which, due to lack of time, I cannot mention now. However, I must refer specifically to two of them, viz the Federal Council and the South African Council of Teachers. We as politicians greatly appreciate the work done by the Federal Council in particular.
I should like to convey a few words of thanks to the Federal Council for the standpoints they have adopted. With regard to the Whites over which it exercises authority, the Federal Council has committed itself to the present political system. As law-abiding citizens, obedient to the State, they have accepted the new dispensation and will serve education within the new dispensation. As a responsible body the Federal Council does not support and, in fact, opposes the idea of trade unions within education. I have the greatest appreciation for that. By that I am not saying that I am opposed to trade unions, but as far as education is concerned there are other ways in which bargaining must be done, and I thank the Federal Council for its exceptionally responsible standpoint in this regard. I have also taken cognisance of the understanding shown by the Federal Council, and by teachers, of the economic situation of the country and the fact that they were prepared—although they clearly stated that they hoped that this would not be a recurring event, and they are entitled to say that—to make sacrifices with a view to combating the existing economic problems.
I also took cognizance of the fact that the Federal Council would also like to be more intimately involved in the advance planning as far as conditions of service are concerned. That is certainly justified. There is such a variety of fields in which the Federal Council is already active and—I know this too—for which it has appreciation. Therefore this is perhaps a request to which attention should be given, particularly as far as this specific component is concerned.
Last but not least I do also want to say that we very much appreciate the fact that the organized profession already enjoys representation through the Federal Council in all committees that contribute towards the development of education. We are particularly appreciative, of course, of the quality of the contributions made by the Federal Council to the functions of the various boards, advisory councils and so on.
I am of course also aware of the idea of rationalization which exists among the ranks of the teachers. Of course, what this could amount to is that we may have various councils, the functions and aims of which overlap, combined in the process of rationalization. I wish to convey this idea, too, to the hon the Minister because I believe that this is an idea to which the necessary attention ought to be given. As an example of such a merger one need only refer to the South African Teachers’ Council and the Federal Council. This could well lead to better co-ordinated action in future. However, I shall leave it at that.
When I come back now to the hon member for Bryanston I want to remind hon members that right at the start of his speech he said that he did not know whether he should laugh or cry; whether he should be disappointed or grateful about what the hon the Minister had said. Of course, he is fully entitled to say and feel that.
So in the end he cried!
Yes, eventually—as the hon the Minister says—he cried. In fact, that is what he mainly did. Moreover, he cried about a lot of minor issues. Of course, what his dilemma amounts to is that many of the things about which he was crying …
When you speak, I feel like laughing again.
It is because you are at least hearing something good now that you want to laugh again.
The problem, Mr Chairman, is that many of the things to which the hon member for Bryanston referred have so often been debated in this House before and that the basic point of departure, about which we had better agree to differ, is the fact that this hon member views education from a fundamentally different standpoint to that which we on this side of the House adopt. Therefore the hon member concerned himself with what was to happen with regard to schools and with the question whether the hon Minister would inform him as to a specific school, and so on. That is also the reason why the hon member speaks about apartheid within education. We, of course, do not regard this as apartheid within education. We regard it as differentiation with regard to specific systems of education, because that is in the interest of education, and in addition because it is in the interest of those who serve education that there should be separate systems of education for Whites, Coloureds, Indians and Blacks.
Mr Chairman, I want to put a very simple question to the hon member for Virginia. If what the hon member expounded here earlier is indeed true, viz that it is a matter of separate systems, can the hon member then tell me what about Coloured children who are regarded as Afrikaners because they speak Afrikaans and accept the Afrikaans culture and religion as their own, whereas the only difference lies in the percentage of Black blood in their veins?
You see, Mr Chairman, that is our dilemma. The hon member for Bryanston is here asking a political question. We can of course furnish him with the answer. However, I am not prepared to allow myself to be misled, during a debate on education, into answering a political question. The fact of the matter is that we have a specific system of education for Whites, for Coloureds, for Indians and for Blacks. This is so because it is in their best interests. In the best interests of everyone. As far as the exceptions are concerned—and as the hon member himself knows they do exist—there are also specific standpoints that are adopted. Accordingly I am not going to elaborate on this further at this point.
What about Coloureds with 93% White blood in their veins?
Order! I regret that the hon member’s time has expired.
Mr Chairman, I rise merely to afford the hon member for Virginia the opportunity to proceed with his speech.
The hon member for Virginia may proceed.
Mr Chairman, I thank the hon Whip of the Official Opposition.
I must hasten. I wish to point out here and now that after these announcements by the hon the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning, and also those that have just been made by the hon the Minister of Education and Culture with regard to the change in the composition and structure of the provincial councils, it is appropriate to consider briefly what the situation is at present. In this regard, therefore, it is appropriate that I draw hon members’ attention briefly to what is stated in section 14 of the Constitution with regard to the distinction between own affairs and general affairs. Hon members of the Conservative Party so often ask us what own affairs really entail. Of course, that question of theirs is quite clearly answered by section 14 of the Constitution. Thus own affairs comprise everything that affect the identity, way of life and culture of a specific population group. Accordingly we find in the schedule, education in all its facets, including correspondence courses, including school sport and including cadets, that form part of these own affairs. It is also necessary for us to note that provision is also made within the Constitution for what is general in respect of certain matters that also have a communal character within education. This is spelt out clearly and to save time I shall not refer to it further.
That theme, which is reflected in the Constitution, is also consistently reflected throughout, because education, too, forms part of the world-view and philosophy of life of a specific people and is therefore also incorporated in its constitution. In the White Paper that followed this particular report of the HSRC, however, very definite standpoints were stated in regard to education in which these aspects are more specifically stated. The hon member for Bryanston referred to a single Ministry, and it is correct that this is mentioned in the HSRC report as a request. In the White Paper this side of the Committee and the Government declares its firm opposition to the idea in view of its approach of separate education with a separate Minister of Education and a separate education department with own schools, own syllabuses and their own cultural content for each particular group.
If the hon members of the PFP argue against that, then they are entitled to do so, but that is the existing policy and we stand by it, because we consider that it is in the best interests and does not constitute discrimination.
Of course we recognize that at present circumstances are not equal as far as the various education systems are concerned, nor are they equal in regard to teaching facilities, the staff/pupil ratio and so on. This is an important matter and I want to say, because I am convinced that the hon members of the CP will eventually deal with this, that it is clearly stated in this White Paper that in the pursuit of equal education opportunities—there is a difference between equal education opportunities and an equal educational standard, but I do not wish to go into that now—specific standards will be maintained. It is therefore simply untrue to argue that White education will be undermined and the standard reduced due to the endeavour to achieve parity. This is very clearly stated on page 31 of the White Paper and to save time I am not going to elaborate on that further.
There is another matter I wish to deal with. When we compare the task and scope of the Department of Education and Culture with that of any other Government department, whether it is a matter of general or own affairs, it is immediately obvious that this specific department has a tremendously important and wide-ranging task. If my memory serves me, this department administers 27 laws, as against the Department of National Education, for example, which administers eight laws within the system as we have it. To that one can add, with reference to the announcement made by the two hon Ministers, that the provinces are involved and that this Department of Education and Culture will now be a policy-making body with regard to all White education. Therefore it is quite clear that this is an extremely important department.
What do we find? We find—I have no objection to this—that the department for general affairs, like the Department of National Education, has a Director General of its own for specific reasons. In all humility I wish to say that in view of the budget of almost R3 billion, as the hon the Minister said, if one takes this budget plus the budgets of the provinces which are now to be added, which carry the Department of Education and Culture and in the light of the importance of this department it is imperative that this department should have a fully-fledged Director General What is more, we shall not simply have to go to a fully-fledged Director General; we shall also have to provide the necessary budgetary and supporting services. If one expects of a department to provide a specific service which is as comprehensive as the service expected from this department then one has to provide it with the infrastructure to enable it to perform its task. If one does not succeed in providing it with the necessary infrastructure then the effective service that is expected must inevitably fall short of what is required.
This important department is an own affairs department. Now, there are those in this House who say that they do not have so much respect for an own affair. However I wish to express my conviction today that in the present dispensation own affairs are of absolutely cardinal importance. Because this is so, everything possible must be done to afford the relevant departments the opportunity to carry out their task to the best of their ability as is expected of them. In the case of the Department of Education and Culture our job is to put everything of the best into the education of the Whites in accordance with the world-view and philosophy of life of the Whites. Therefore it is necessary to provide them with all these specific services to enable them to achieve the optimum in this connection.
Mr Chairman, I do not believe that the hon member for Virginia provided any answer whatsoever to the questions asked by the hon member for Bryanston. However, the hon member for Bryanston can speak for himself. However I wish to put a question to the hon member for Virginia. In view of the Harrismith by-election and all the fuss made about the pamphlet we issued on the standpoint of the University of the Orange Free State concerning the admission of non-Whites to that university, I want to ask him whether he will not arrange for the four parties in this House to have the opportunity to debate their educational principles and policy at that university. We want a nice, peaceful opportunity to do so. The hon member may then tell the rest of the university how wrong the other parties in the House are. [Interjections.]
I shall come to the hon member in a moment. In concluding his speech today the hon the Minister of Education and Culture, who is subordinate to the coalition government, said:
A little earlier he said:
Sir, this hon Minister was the Administrator of Natal.
He was a very good administrator too.
Go and look for your red tabs, man. [Interjections.] I want to say that it was the convention in South Africa that an administrator was the one man in the province who stayed above party politics. I want to ask the hon the Minister whether he agrees with me. For example, I know about the convention that applied in the Transvaal. On one occasion Dr Verwoerd said to Administrator Odendaal that he should rather not sit on the platform at NP Congresses, due to that very convention. However it was this very Minister who, as Administrator of Natal, launched a venomous and stinging attack on former Prime Minister Vorster when he expressed views on the constitutional dispensation.
Were you present?
Surely the hon the Minister knows that I was not present when he said that.
Does he deny what appeared in the newspaper?
Yes, then he must deny what appeared in the newspaper.
I do not know what appeared in it.
Does the hon the Minister not read newspapers? He does not know what is going on. Then the hon the Minister must deny those things. I want to say to him that the NP is in such a position in South African politics today that one may not touch them because then one is talking politics. However the NP itself can use and abuse politics just as they please in regard to any facet of life. However, when an opposition party comes and tackles the NP on its principles and policy, all of a sudden we are asked very piously not to make political capital out of it. [Interjections.] I want to say to the hon the Minister that the education of any people is an integral facet of the whole way of life of that people. One cannot isolate education from all the other facets of the way of life of the people. I see that the hon the Minister agrees with me.
In the second place I want to say to the hon the Minister that in its own programme of principles, that has now been set aside, the NP states what its principles are in respect of education. Moreover, just as the facet of education forms an integral part of the national organism, politics, too, is an integral part of it. One cannot say today that one is conducting politics and that one has a political policy or standpoint on affairs without this being reflected in your education. I wish to state bluntly that the programme of principles of the CP—as regards education, I shall quote it again in a moment—is indisputably very much bound up with our view of the political dispensation in South Africa. One cannot separate the two. I now want to say to the hon the Minister that in the old days when we were part of the old NP, with the old Piet Clase and the old Gerrit Viljoen, if I may put it that way, the education policy of the old NP was very much in line with their political policy.
We are now speaking here about own affairs and about so-called own education, but in the debates we have had thus far we have pointed out ad nauseam to the hon the Minister that the Whites no longer have their own education. The education of the Whites is subordinated—this also appears in the new Constitution …
It does not appear in the Constitution!
Of course it does! It is subordinate! [Interjections.] I want to say to the hon the Minister that the education portfolio he is dealing with here today is subordinated to a multiracial coaliton Cabinet. Rev Hendrickse and Mr Rajbansi also have a say in the general coalition Cabinet. They have a say in the maize price and in White education. [Interjections.] Talk of this kind about own affairs and White education is merely aimed at further misleading the electorate at large.
You are misleading them!
No. After all, the NP is becoming the PFP! That is why the hon member for Bryanston said that he is unhappy with the hon the Minister. I can understand his unhappiness. On the one hand they are still clinging to the policy of separate development but on the other they are applying the power-sharing policy of the PFP.
The hon the Minister is now sanctimoniously saying to the people at large that the State President said that separate primary and secondary schools were one of the last non-negotiables.
Do you support that?
Of course! [Interjections.] I do not support the policy of the NP, but our entire policy is a people’s policy. I want self-determination not only as far as my education policy is concerned, but also with regard to my political policy.
The hon the Minister now says that they are removing all discriminatory measures. [Interjections.] I hear hon members saying: “Hear, hear!” The hon the Minister says that they are removing all of them. In conflict with the old NP principles they repeal the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act and tell the people at large that there is no text on which that Act can in fact be based. Now I want to ask the hon the Minister—the hon member for Bryanston is correct in this regard—if they want to form one nation—the State President speaks about “relatively one nation of Coloureds, Indians and Whites—and they remove this dreadful discriminatory measure against mixed marriages, on what basis, then, can people marry while their children may not go to the same school? Now I ask: What text do they have for that? [Interjections.] Yes, because in two years’ time when the NP moves closer to the PFP they will tell the people at large that there is no text for separate schools. [Interjections.] We are in a situation in which we have trapped the NP in the integration corner into which it has painted itself. That is true. [Interjections.] That hon member is laughing because he knows he is laughing out of embarrassment. He is embarrassed and uneasy.
If one abolishes all these so-called discriminatory measures then surely one no longer has a principle in accordance with which one can say that there must be separate schools. The National Party states that the Coloureds are not a people or a people in the making, but together with the Whites they form relatively one nation. Now I ask the hon the Minister on what basis he is retaining separate schools for Coloureds and Whites.
I also have thanks and appreciation for the work done by the officials. In my opinion it must be very difficult to carry out a governmental policy which is Progressive one day and stands by separate development the next.
In the annual report on page 9 the following appears:
That is the most racist term one could imagine. The hon the Minister must get rid of the term “White”, because it is a racist term. [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Rissik has just held up clean hands as regards political involvement in education. I shall come back to that in the course of my speech. That is an old story which the hon member for Rissik dragged in here concerning White education that is supposedly subordinate and has no standing in our constitutional set-up. I should like to refer to that too, in the course of my speech.
The constitutional dispensation is a fact. It has been accepted and implemented. It has become a reality in the history of our people. A further fact is that the CP fears this Constitution like the very devil. On the one hand we have an accepted, implemented Constitution passed with a mandate given by two-thirds of the Whites of South Africa. On the other, we have the unwilling willingness of the PFP to accept it, and then the absolute and total rejection of it by the CP. In their fear of this Constitution, in their political battle to present themselves as having credibility, they have been engaged in a witch hunt in recent times in an effort to ruin White survival in this country. Since 1938 when we began to discuss the Constitution they have been making constant attacks on what is ours. Today, in the speech of the hon member for Rissik and in what they propagate along the same lines, they are persisting in their disparagement of own affairs. Education as an own affair is the target for their tactic of disparagement. The only conclusion that any level-headed person could draw if he follows these debates and statements is that the CP is deliberately destroying the Whites’ right to self-determination. Since we instituted this present dispensation they have not once had a single word of appreciation for own affairs and own education. [Interjections.]
Let us look at what they say. In Hansard of Tuesday, 19 February 1985, col 1123, the hon member for Sunnyside made the following passing remark: “The Whites have no authority over their own affairs.” He is here referring to education.
In col 1152 of Hansard of Tuesday, 19 February 1985, the hon member for Lichtenburg has the following to say:
Surely this and other statements constitute a finely-calculated effort to deliberately disparage and destroy own affairs and, with them, the right of self-determination of the Whites. I wish to state very clearly once again: We on this side of the House will not permit that. The PFP and the CP can persist in their efforts to ruin this, but we shall not sell out the Whites in South Africa and leave them in the lurch. After all, we represent the Whites in this House. Our task is to look after the interests of the Whites; and that goes for the education of the Whites as well. This side of the committee will not run away from that responsibility.
I should like to associate myself with what Mr Koos Steyn, Secretary of the Federal Council of Teachers’ Associations, said recently. However, before doing so I should like to congratulate prof Hennie Maree on behalf of this side of the House on his election as Chairman of the Federal Council. We are pleased, in the first place, that a Transvaler has been appointed to this House, but it is also in the interest of education that we are pleased that prof Maree is going to occupy this important position.
In a speech during a graduation ceremony at the University of Pretoria, Mr Steyn said inter alia the following about the plea that party politics should not be present in education. He put it as follows: I quote from a Press report in Beeid of 2 April 1985:
He then goes on:
Everyone who has the interest of education at heart will certainly not find fault with this statement.
The education of our children is undoubtedly such a high priority for everyone involved—the parent, the teacher and the profession—and such an important requirement for services that there can be no reckless trifling with our children for the sake of short-term political advantage. Therefore we must condemn in no uncertain terms—and we should be failing in our duty if we were not to do so—the standpoint adopted at the congresses of the CP by the hon member of Koedoespoort—I see that he is unfortunately not present. There he made an appeal to CP parents, and I wish to quote part of that speech as it was reported in Beeid, 6 August 1984. He says:
[Interjections.] That is how the hon member for Koedoespoort was reported. I take it that at that stage—it does not seem as if he is any more—he was chief spokesman of the CP on education. In other words, we must accept that he made this statement at that congress on behalf of the CP. Therefore as far as I am concerned this is their official standpoint. He went on to say, and I quote again:
It is this kind of mentality that the CP wishes to bring into education. Therefore it is very clear that the official standpoint of the CP is that the educational profession as a whole must be hijacked by the CP. The teacher must strip himself of professionality and become a mere pawn in the hands of the CP. Surely that is a gross insult to our education profession.
Fortunately it is so that we on this side of the House have full confidence in the teachers at our schools.
Order! I regret that the hon member’s time has expired.
Mr Chairman, I rise to enable the hon member to complete his speech.
Sir, I thank the hon Whip for affording me the opportunity to complete my speech. Therefore we on this side of the House once again wish to convey our thanks and appreciation to the teaching profession. In this period of superficialization as a result of specific circumstances, the demands being made on the education trio—the parent, teacher and the church—are steadily increasing. An urgent appeal to act on behalf of the child is necessary. In this set-up the teacher is undoubtedly the local point and occupies a very important role in the process of education. The child, at the stage when he is growing up, from his sixth to his eighteen year, is exposed to the teacher for six hours a day. Over the years, male and female teachers have acted with the utmost responsibility when they have had to form and educate the child, and I know that they are still doing so and will continue to do so in the future. Once again, on behalf of this side of the House I wish to express the utmost thanks and appreciation to all the teachers who over the years have shown the utmost loyalty in devoting all their energy to acting only in the best interests of the child.
I wish to conclude by referring, in the few minutes at my disposal, to the child and to the youth and to link this to this year’s international youth year. The youth of today are undoubtedly being exposed to far heavier demands than any generation before them. Development in innumerable spheres, particularly that of technology, including television, video and the computer have gained an almost insuperable grip on the youth of today. Our children have become sitting-room children. In former years, only 10 to 15 years ago, children were still able to entertain themselves by way of open-air recreation. Those were the days when children still played and parents still had to battle to get children back into the house. Nowadays some parents have even given up the struggle fight to get children out of their sitting-rooms or lounges into the open air. Parents accept their children as part of the furniture in the sitting room. We often find them there when we go to visit voters. One is stared at in an almost hostile fashion for having had the temerity to interrupt the specific television programme. Our children are in danger of becoming staring, gaping creatures who passively sit and stare at the television. As if that is not enough, the video, too, has to be dragged in and these two are becoming the components of our youth’s recreation.
This may lead to the youth of today developing into absolutely a social beings, and that is why it is of such crucial importance to emphasize the role played by the teachers in the leisure time of the youth. The involvement of the teacher in the extramural activities of the child must not be under-estimated. The teacher does not offer extramural activities as an obligation resting upon him but as part of his task of training and education. I should like to pay tribute once again to those teachers who unselfishly and with great dedication sacrifice their time to helping a child in his after-school activities.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Gezina made some interesting observations in the latter part of his speech about the child and the TV set. I want to remind him that control of the child and the TV set rests in the hand of the parent—the switch! I think that is where it starts and that is where it should end—with a little discipline.
At the outset I would like to wish the hon the Minister well in this new venture and this brand new department. I want to say to him that I am not going to start the Port Natal by-election campaign during his Budget Vote, so we will leave that aside. I would also like to wish Dr Jooste and the officials well.
I believe the hon the Minister has made some very important announcements in his speech today. I followed his speech carefully and I appreciate the fact that he sent me a copy of it. His speech contains some very practical suggestions and guidelines for the application of the new educational system in the provinces which are going to become extinct as we know them.
It is good to see that in those guidelines the hon the Minister shows the practical experience he gained during his term as the Administrator of the province of Natal. This experience shows in his attitude. We welcome the minimum degree of disturbance regarding the administration of education at provincial level which he has indicated will be the case. When I talk of administration I use a small “a”, not a capital “A”.
We also welcome the concept of “partners in education”. That slogan is a winner and I think it holds great promise and a great future if it is carried through. It is a good one.
I welcome in particular the points that I would now like to highlight because I think they bear repetition. We welcome the fact that the hon the Minister says it is “the individual parents and the organized community that must have a shared responsibility and a say” also that “devolution of power does not only comprise administrative functions but also policy-making authority over functions which this department allocates to provincial education authorities” and “The department definitely does not see itself as a bureaucracy”. Coming from the hon the Minister, that final point is very important and contains a lesson that could be learnt by many others.
The hon the Minister says furthermore that he regards it “as of primary importance that the distinctive character of education in the respective provinces should be preserved and perpetuated”. We are grateful for these words.
At the end of his speech the hon the Minister says: “Let us keep politics out of this Vote.” I really find this quite amusing. We heard the hon the Minister of Law and Order say during the discussion of his Vote in the general affairs Budget that he wants politics to be kept out of it. We have heard various hon Ministers pleading that we should keep politics out of their Votes. I am waiting for the day when some hon Minister will stand up in this House and say: “Let us keep politics out of politics.” Then we will have gone the full circle.
This is a political forum and there is no such thing as keeping politics out of the subjects we discuss. It is the politics of the party in power that has put education where it is today; it is the politics of the party in power that has caused this hon Minister to make announcements, such as he made earlier today, that are aimed at undoing the mistakes of the past.
I want to discuss a particular problem which, I believe, if the correct political decisions had been made earlier by the Government, we would not have had today. I want to discuss the aspect of shared responsibility concerning the costs of education. I believe the time has come for the hon the Minister to address this nettlesome issue firmly and to bring to finality the question of the parents financial obligation in respect of the cost of education at school level. There has been a tremendous amount of speculation and range of opinion expressed which has varied from one extreme to the other. There has been rumour that has been rife, and I suggest that it will not be long before this issue—no matter how much the hon the Minister may not want it to happen—will become a political football. Feelings are then going to start running higher than they should. In the ultimate, when this happens, it will be to no one’s benefit; on the contrary, it will certainly be to the detriment of the most important people with whom we are dealing, namely the children—and that, Sir, would be a great shame; it would be a crime to allow this issue to become detrimental to the welfare of children.
The De Lange Committee made many recommendations included in which were the following:
A further recommendation was:
The hon the Minister has confirmed this today. However, in regard to the first recommendation—the financial commitment—I think it is fair to say that it is generally accepted that all parents must contribute towards the cost of the education of their children. In Natal the Administrator-in-Executive-Committee, various teachers’ societies, school advisory committees and representatives of other organized parent bodies have expressed this view but—and I stress this very big “but”—the question we must ask is what methodology should be employed in involving the parents financially. That, I believe, is possibly where this issue is being approached from the wrong direction.
It is generally agreed that the parent contribution should be no more than 10% of the total cost. That means that the State must carry by far the greater percentage, namely 90% of the bill. However, here too there is no fixed percentage, except in respect of the maximum, and I think it is generally agreed that 10% should be the maximum. We also believe, however, that allowance should obviously be made for the less fortunate in our society. We must make allowances for those—I think the hon member for Bryanston mentioned this during the course of his speech—who cannot meet the full measure of this commitment.
Figures have been bandied about and it has been suggested that parents’ contributions could vary from approximately R120 to R180 per annum, depending on the standard or the class in which the child is involved in the year in question. However, I hasten to add that these figures were for the year 1983 and I venture to suggest that the costs today could be somewhat higher than that. We in this party believe that if it is accepted that there should be parental involvement to the extent that I have outlined, then it is our duty to find the most equitable method of applying such involvement.
In order to achieve this we want to make the following suggestions: Firstly, we believe that parents should be called upon to pay for all schoolbooks. This would achieve two things. It would remove the resentment felt by other race groups—and there is no gainsaying this—particularly by the Blacks, against the fact that Whites get free books. We believe parents should be called upon to pay for all schoolbooks. This would remove that resentment. It would, in the second place, spread the financial involvement over a period. I think the parent buying a new set of books for a matric pupil will probably find that he will be paying very close to the 10% I have spoken of.
Secondly, we believe that every school should have the right to fix its own levy in respect of each and every pupil in that school. It must be clearly understood that the fixing of the size of the amount of that levy should be decided by the parent body of that school. It must also be compulsory for each and every parent to pay the levy.
Order! I regret the hon member’s time has expired.
Mr Chairman, I rise merely to give the hon member the opportunity to complete his speech.
I thank the hon Whip for his courtesy.
The hon member for Bryanston said he felt that it is a hardship for schools to collect money. In Natal practically every school collects a levy from parents which is used by the school. I therefore do not think that it will be difficult having accepted the principle of paying for schoolbooks, it follows that this levy will be somewhat lower than the 10% figure I mentioned earlier.
We believe, furthermore, that the moneys collected as a result of this levy should be utilized to improve facilities in the school where collected and that there should be a sliding scale for larger families. Larger families should be given consideration where they have more than one child at school.
We would have no argument that a portion of the moneys collected be allocated by the school to assist less fortunate schools, but we believe the decision in that regard can and must only be made by the parent body of the school concerned. Suggestions could emanate from the ministry in this connection, but I think every right-thinking school body would consider applications from the less fortunate schools sympathetically, constantly appreciating the need to assist those who cannot easily help themselves. The final decision must however rest with that school committee.
De Lange went on to say that the parent community should have a greater say in the administration of school affairs. If the parent bodies are to be given a greater say, then that must be coupled with increased powers in respect of decisions they may choose to make in the use of their own funds. These committees should be able to control expenditure relating to all items in respect of school requirements from minor repairs right through to building a swimming-pool.
Furthermore—I think this is very important—the Minister would do well to come out in support of the concept that the parent community, through its elected body, be allowed to have a say in the selection of the school principal as well as the deputy principal. If churches can do it, why not schools? The vast majority of our churches in South Africa have a say in the selection of the man that they will have as their “dominee” or “predikant” or minister or whatever, so why not the schools?
I would like now to move on to the more problematical area of suggestions regarding proposed “regional” school boards which will have certain powers over the activities of school committees. There have been suggestions that the province of Natal, to take one example, should have something like 11 school boards to carry out this function. This is patently ridiculous and the Natal Teachers’ Society is very close to reality when it suggests that only three such regional committees should be established. They agree that there should be an intermediate structure, but we can ill afford a plethora of these bodies. Should such bodies come into being, it naturally follows that they will have to be financed somehow, and I would be very interested to hear the hon the Minister’s remarks in this connection because I do not believe for one minute that this burden should be borne by the school committees in toto, although I have an open mind in respect of some very small contributions coming from that source.
In conclusion, I believe it is going to be extremely difficult for the hon the Minister to find instant solutions to his problems in regard to the issues I have raised, and I think it is going to be very difficult for him to find a standard formula which will be accepted in the four corners and four provinces of the country.
I have made certain suggestions and have outlined certain areas which we in this party consider to be the bottom line and I look forward to hearing the hon the Minister’s response.
Mr Chairman, I should like to associate myself with the argument of the hon member for Umhlanga, especially as far as the financial aspects which have emerged from the report of the HSRC are concerned. I want to contend that the basis laid down by the HSRC, and eventually, I believe, accepted by the Government, gives the assurance that the basic provision of education in South Africa will not be interfered with, but that the school fees—the hon member also referred to this—are more concerned with the so-called luxuries in education. This brings me to the very aspect I want to discuss.
The parent’s contribution to education, and the whole concept surrounding it, is nothing new in education. The larger the parent’s contribution, and the closer the contact between parent and teacher, the more thorough the education supplied to our youth. We have experienced this throughout the whole course of the history of the development of education in South Africa.
The opposite is as true, of course. The greater and more comprehensive the contributions by the Government to education, the less this is appreciated, the greater the demands still made upon the State and the worse the wastage of the facilities made available to education by the Government. This is a tragic truth, Mr Chairman, but unfortunately also axiomatic in the milieu of education in South Africa. People simply do not appreciate those things they get for free.
In addition there is another matter which stands out like a sore thumb. It is that from time to time—even abroad—when education in Southern Africa is being discussed, reference is inevitably made to the so-called White schools, which are allegedly benefitted more than all the other schools, especially as far as the standard of instruction is concerned. When people make allegations of this nature, they normally forget quite easily that the so-called White education has—just as in the case of all the other educational structures in the country—merely received its own framework. That framework consists inter alia of a school building and the property on which it has been erected. The trees, shrubs, gardens, rugby fields, basketball courts, the all-weather tennis and netball courts—all those things have come into being on the strength of the means and the dedication and hard work of the parents and the members of the community who are involved in every particular school. In this way the most beautiful school complexes—monuments to education—which are the final products of a team effort on the part of parents and teachers, have come into being. This is the case throughout our country. Those school complexes stand there as models of the co-operation between parents and teachers—not without the contribution from the State, of course.
To choose a random example, I shall refer to a place like Ermelo. There was a decision to institute music as a subject at the high school in Ermelo. The result was a building complex for musical instruction, which is one of the best examples of what can be brought about by a team effort on the part of parents and teachers; of what is possible when a whole community promises its monetary support to an important educational undertaking—in this case the refinement of the art instruction and development of the children of that community.
I shall not make any further reference to what happened in my own constituency. I do want to mention, however, what the community of Standerton achieved with the erection of a sport complex for interprovincial athletics and other sports meetings. So one can continue to quote examples. These are all things which have come into being through the relevant communities themselves, largely as a result of the co-operation between parents and teachers.
Unfortunately this fine story also has its sad side. It was a long and hard struggle to collect the money for all those undertakings—for the very reason that no one was under any obligation to make his contribution. One of the sad things in the life of the professional pedagogue is the very fact that at certain times every year he has to walk almost like a beggar from business to business, cap in hand, to try to obtain all kinds of things—sweets, bicycles, and goodness knows what else—which can be converted into money in some or other way so that the process of bringing about so many things needed by a school for the education and instruction of its pupils can be continued. The teacher does this unenviable task because it is simply not possible to expect the parents to finance fully every undertaking tackled by the school. They have to go and talk in the oddest places only to be able to hold a Fête because that is one of the best ways of collecting funds as the whole community is involved in it. I shall leave it at that for the moment.
There is one thing that the world at large does not see, and now I am speaking from my experience in education. In those days the department gave our school only five overhead projectors. There was one 16 mm slide projector and one projector. Parent capital took care of the rest. Today there is an overhead projector in every classroom. I am not speaking of additional visual apparatus now, nor of methods of darkening the rooms or of dry-print duplicators if we did not like the less aesthetic duplicator. I am also not speaking of schools which have obtained computers from own funds because people went ahead and made contributions to the development themselves.
These things did not take place overnight. I think the standard we have in the White world of education today, is entering its third generation of investment. What is on display there today, is thanks to more than three generations which have invested in attaining these standards. I salute those men and women who can show what a lot of sweat and heartache and tired legs have achieved. I pay tribute to them.
There is no point in making this apparatus available to education if the ability of and the need for application are not there. There is no point in our putting some of the most expensive apparatus in the institutions if it is not usable, for then it is a waste of money.
If we then accept that the parent should make a contribution to these luxuries, I want to point out two problems to the hon the Minister. In the first place I have a problem concerning how these funds are to be collected. I want to plead that the teaching staff will not have to do it. When we make it a compulsory fund—I think it should become a compulsory fund—it should not be the task of the school principal or the teachers to send a reminder to parents who have not paid and have to be reprimanded because they have not done so. If this is to be the task of the school staff, it will impair the relationship between teacher and child. We must seek other ways of collecting these funds.
I think it will be a very good thing if we can have a thorough investigation done on the side of the representative parent bodies—the parent community will then be involved—on the nature and scope of the funds and how these funds are to be separated from the amounts that have to be contributed by the children’s parents and the amounts contributed by the community. It is the community, after all, which eventually reaps the beneficial results of this education. By means of the final product derived from education, life is developed and our economy grows. What contribution should the community make to these funds and how are they to be collected?
As a last thought I can say I accept that some of these funds will have to be used directly in the course of the year. Then there are also the so-called invisible funds. I want to elucidate the problem. Parents do not experience a problem in giving money, and some of them really have an open hand in the giving of contributions to the child’s education. There is always a question mark, however, in respect of those invisible funds, those funds which are put elsewhere and not utilized directly.
In my opinion the principle of parent contributions to education is compulsory, and I can find no fault with that. Nevertheless this is a large area which deserves thorough and sound research. As far as I am concerned, it is imperative that this aspect be investigated in co-operation with representative parent associations so that we can bring about a happy world for our education and its staff.
Mr Chairman, since the introduction of the new Constitution, the function of the Department of National Education has changed considerably. In particular, most of the decisions relating to the schooling of our children now fall within the ambit of this hon Minister’s own affairs Department of Education and Culture. The Department of National Education, however, retains major importance as the overall guiding influence insofar as the formulation of national policy is concerned. The hon the Minister of Education and Culture, as I understand it, will however be responsible for the day to day running of schools within the framework of national policy.
The Government has always been aware that Transvaal private schools receive no State or provincial grants and that, if these schools wished to maintain high standards, their scale of fees would have to be raised to such heights that many children would be prevented through financial considerations from attending the school of their choice. Very little has been done about this in the past years, particularly in Transvaal, despite representations. Tragically, events are catching up on procrastination. Private schools in many areas around the country are in serious financial difficulties. Inflation in particular has wrought a dreadful toll on those schools. Some schools have already closed down. The King David and the Jewish schools in Transvaal, for instance, face dire economic straits and enormous demands are being made on the parents concerned in order to save those schools. Few of us are perhaps even aware that, for instance, the Jewish schools of Transvaal, five in number, provide an education for over 5 000 pupils. Sir, if the hon the Minister is interested, I shall continue.
I am listening to you.
It did not look like it.
An interesting statistic is provided in last week’s edition of the Financial Mail. Like any other university, the University of the Witwatersrand finds that it draws its students from certain “feeder” schools. If the top 20 of the schools which provided the University of the Witwatersrand with most of its students in 1984 were analysed, it would be found that they provide the University annually with some 40% of its intake of 1 700 students. The figures read like this: Damelin College every year provides the University of the Witwatersrand with some 340 students; King David, which operates two schools in Johannesburg, supplies some 227 students; St Johns 51 students; and St Stithians 40 students. This constitutes a huge contribution to the education of young people on the Witwatersrand.
As to the impact of the possible closure of some or all of these schools, let me point out that if the Jewish schools in Transvaal were closed, the Government would be faced with an additional annual bill of R3,5 million; but more schools would be needed and capital expenditure in this regard could exceed R50 million. That is what these schools are saving the Exchequer at this time. All the while the parents of those 5 000 children are contributing massively in taxes to the education of all others. On top of it, they are taxed on the fees they pay.
Business interrupted in accordance with Standing Order No 19.
Progress reported and leave granted to sit again.
The House adjourned at