This was the year of the textbook, of litigation for basic education rights and of Angie Motshekga`s disgrace.
Contrary to her and her spluttering spin meisters` more puerile public pronouncements, civil society organisations do not turn to the courts on a whim or in a rush, or to embarrass the government or beef up their donor funding.
They do, however, resort to litigation when basic education`s leadership vacuum becomes as acute as it incrementally has since 2009 when Motshekga joined the Cabinet.
Finally, the lethargy to which our past three report cards on this most ineffective of ministers have drawn attention blew up in her face as civil society organisations and others moved to fill the leadership vacuum.
The Limpopo textbook debacle was only the most prominent in a catalogue of ministerial and bureaucratic bumbling, partly because it was the easiest to understand amid the often obscure debates on education standards: books are either in classrooms or they are not. In this case they weren`t, as two court judgments in rights organisation Section27`s favour unequivocally showed.
No amount of official spin could blur that simple reality, much as it tried to do so in an orgy of buck-passing. On the continuing scandal of inadequate school infrastructure, Motshekga`s last-minute capitulation, when she settled with non-governmental organisation Equal Education in November instead of trying to argue in court why she should not prescribe minimum standards, was welcome. But why did it take two years of Equal Education`s pleading to get her to this point?
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan also lost patience with Motshekga`s lethargy: his October mini-budget reallocated R7.2-billion earmarked for backlogs in school infrastructure because of “slow spending”. Rubbing salt in that wound, Gordhan gave nearly R2.5-billion of this grant to Blade Nzimande for his two new universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga.
Is there any conceivable reason why Motshekga should remain in her post? No.