Early Life and Teaching Career

Matsie Angelina Motshekga (popularly known as Angie Motshekga) was born on 19 June 1955 in Soweto, Transvaal (now known as Gauteng Province). She received her primary education at different schools in Soweto (ANC Women’s League, 2021), and matriculated from the Matatiele Boarding School. Motshekga later studied at the University of the North, now known as the University of Limpopo, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education. She then attended the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Transvaal, where she obtained a Bachelor of Educational Science degree and a master's degree (ANC Women’s League, 2021).

In 1981, Motshekga was employed as a teacher at Orlando High School. She worked at the school until 1983, when she resigned following her appointment as a lecturer at the Soweto College of Education. Motshekga became a lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1985 (Yes Media,2022). She lectured at the university until 1994. Beginning her career as a teacher, Motshekga worked passionately to empower young minds and uplift communities (ANC Women’s League, 2021). Her experience in the classroom, particularly in historically disadvantaged areas, provided valuable insights into the challenges facing South Africa's education system.

Transitioning into educational leadership and advocacy, Motshekga became involved in various initiatives and organisations dedicated to improving access to quality education for all South Africans (Motshekga, 2020). In 2009, her dedication caught the attention of the government. She was then appointed the Minister of Basic Education.

Political career

During the 1980s, Motshekga was a member of the Soweto Education Crisis Committee that later formed part of the National Education Coordinating Committee (NECC). She was a member of the United Democratic Front (UDF) (Republic of South Africa, 2021). She was also a member of the National Education Union of South Africa. Motshekga was active in the Pimville Civic Association.

Motshekga was the National Convenor of Teacher Unity talks that led to the formation of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU). She was the regional chair of the African National Congress Women's League (ANCWL) in the Kyalami region. From 1994 to 1997, she worked as a director in the Office of the Presidency (ANC,2020). She was elected Deputy Provincial Secretary of the ANCWL in 1997. In 2000, the Premier of Gauteng, Mbhazima Shilowa, appointed her to the Social Development portfolio of the Executive Council (ANC, 2020). After the 2004 general election, Motshekga returned to the legislature for her second term. Mbhazima Shilowa moved her to the Education portfolio (ANC Women’s League,2021).

Motshekga was elected the national president of the African National Congress Women's League (ANCWL) in 2008, defeating the League’s secretary-general Bathabile Dlamini, receiving 1,826 votes (Bendile,2017). 

She was appointed a Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Social Development in 2000 and in April 2004 as MEC for Education till 2009.  She joined Parliament on 6 May 2009 and was appointed a South African Cabinet Member from 2009 to 2010. She was appointed Minister of Education on 11 May 2009 (Bhana,2013). Motshekga was elected to the National Assembly in April 2009. Newly elected President Jacob Zuma unbundled the Education portfolio into two new, separate ministries. Motshekga was appointed Minister of Basic Education (Republic of South Africa,2021). She took office on 11 May 2009.

During her first term, textbooks were not delivered to impoverished Limpopo Province schools between December 2011 and June 2012. She faced calls to resign or be removed, but she remained in the position After the 2014 National Elections, she was re-appointed as part of the South African Cabinet as Minister of Basic Education in May 2014 (Bendile,2017).

After the 2019 National Elections, she was re-appointed as the Minister of Basic Education in June 2019 for the third time. She has served the ANC and ANCWL in different positions over a long period (ANC Women’s League,2021). She was the National President of the ANC Women’s League from 2008 until 2015. She is currently a member of the ANC National Executive Committee and the ANC National Working Committee (ANC Women’s League,2021).

Motshekga and the BELA Bill

Minister Angie Motshekga, in her capacity as the Minister of Basic Education in South Africa, has been instrumental in the development of the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill (Department of Basic Education, 2023). The BELA Bill aims to amend various laws relating to basic education in South Africa, with a focus on improving the quality and accessibility of education for all citizens (Department of Basic Education, 2023). It encompasses provisions related to school infrastructure, learner safety, curriculum development, and teacher training, among other aspects (Department of Basic Education, 2023).

Motshekga has emphasised the importance of the BELA Bill in addressing longstanding challenges within the education system, such as inadequate infrastructure and disparities in educational opportunities (Department of Basic Education, 2023). She has highlighted the government's commitment to ensuring that every child in South Africa receives a quality education that equips them with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the modern world (Horisani Sithole, 2024). Various stakeholders, including educators, opposition parties, and civil society organisations have criticised the BELA Bill. One of the primary criticisms revolves around the perceived lack of consultation and engagement with key stakeholders during the drafting process (Department of Basic Education,2023). Critics argue that meaningful input from teachers, parents, and other relevant parties was not adequately solicited, leading to concerns about the inclusivity and legitimacy of the bill (Horisani Sithole, 2024)

Another point of contention is the potential financial implications of implementing the provisions outlined in the BELA Bill. Some critics argue that the government has not sufficiently clarified how funding will be secured to address school infrastructure upgrades and teacher training programs. This lack of financial transparency has raised doubts about the feasibility and sustainability of the proposed reforms (Haripersad, 2024).

Criticisms of Motshekga as Minister of Basic Education

According to the opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, Minister Motshekga, along with her department, have fallen shy of expectations in providing quality education to the youth of South Africa (Mabena, 2023). Condemning the youth to a lifetime of poverty, unemployment and hunger caused by their low literacy and numerical skills which are critical in their learning and career development (Mabena, 2023).

In support of the sentiment that failure has plagued Motshekga’s administration, the political party, Build One South Africa (BOSA) has shared similar sentiments calling for the dismissal of the comprehension levels, especially, among learners in the 4th and 8th grades who compared poorly to their peers in other developing countries in the recent Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) (Dentlinger, 2024). BOSA has also cited that the minister has failed in the proper allocation of resources given that her department is allocated the biggest slice of the country’s financial budget by stating that in a budget of R280 billion, the country is not getting value for money with the subpar education provided to the future leaders of the country (Dentlinger, 2024).

Motshekga is married to the former Premier of Gauteng and former ANC chief whip, Mathole Motshekga. Mathole is a South African lawyer and politician who was elected to his third consecutive term as a Member of Parliament in the 2019 general election. He formerly represented his political party, the African National Congress (ANC), as the second Premier of Gauteng.



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