DA KZN: School oversight visits reveal ongoing union capture

Democratic Alliance media statement by  Mbali Ntuli, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Education

 

DA KZN: School oversight visits reveal ongoing union capture

 

NO textbooks, hazardous infrastructure, internal politics, overcrowded classrooms, drug-related problems and faction fighting are just some of the challenges identified by members of the DA during last week’s KZN Legislature schools functionality programme.

The findings come despite numerous assurances by KZN Education MEC, Mthandeni Dlungwane and his department that schools across the province are ready for the 2017 academic year. Some of the worst findings by the DA are;
- Intathakusa Combined School, which falls under the Abaqulusi Local Authority, has no stationery or textbooks. It also has no electricity after the principal, the bank signatory, left in 2014 following a major dispute with the School Governing Body (SGB). As a result, no bills can be paid

- At Dalusizo High and KwaBhavu High in Ugu, there is a shocking lack of leadership. Both schools have acting principals and teachers are ill-disciplined with very little teaching and learning taking place. This amid allegations that they were protected by Sadtu when the department tried to intervene. The matric pass rate at KwaBhavu has dropped from 92% to 7% in just three years

- At St Julius High School in Ntukuso, KwaXimba near Pinetown faction fighting is compromising learning with outside elements using learners to disrupt classes. Learners carry weapons and the school clerk had to be moved out of the area after his life was threatened while teachers’ lives are also at risk

- The situation at Mdepha High School in Siweni, KwaXimba is similar with the end of year exams written under police guard and learners also carrying weapons to school. The school only obtained 9 Bachelor passes out of 123 matric learners and only 9% of learners passed Maths and Maths Literacy

- Waterloo Secondary under the Pinetown District has seen its matric pass rate drop from 87% to 20.05% in just two years. Teen pregnancy, drug abuse, staff and learner absenteeism are rife

- At Glenwood School in Chatsworth, the school principal has been charged with fraud amounting to R5.6millon and suspended with pay.
Of particular concern to the DA is Sadtu’s ongoing interference within KZN education with last week’s visits showing clearly the difference and status that both the department and ANC gives to the teacher union, especially when it comes to disciplining and monitoring of errant teachers. The result is that our schools are under a state of union capture as politics takes precedence over teaching.
Another major problem is the focus on Grade 12 results as part of the schools monitoring programme while the real challenges are in the foundation phase. This was underscored by the lack of accurate results for lower grades, high drop-out rates between grade 10 and grade 12 – with no research done on the reasons for this – and erratic Grade 12 results, from year to year.

Budget constraints within the department also continue to have a real impact on infrastructure and repairs as has the moratorium on basic posts such as security guards and clerks. Trust Feed Primary near Wartburg is in a disgraceful and dilapidated state and should have been prioritised for rebuilding years ago. This while there is talk of a major RDP housing project in the area. Woodhurst Secondary in Chatsworth is also in dire need of maintenance with asbestos roofing. It is clearly incorrectly classed as a Quintile 5 school and as a result, has service charge arrears of more than R130 000.
As always, the issue of teen pregnancy was prevalent during the visits. At Kanyekanye High School in Ebilanyoni, Edumbe there were 20 confirmed cases of pregnant learners in 2016. At Falaza High School in Bululwane, Nongoma there were 13 learners, with the principal ‘proud’ that the number was ‘low’ according to the school management.
The overarching question following these visits is – where is the department’s political will to take responsibility for these many issues? Most are long-standing which demonstrates poor monitoring and controls along with an absence of proper turnaround strategies
The DA calls on MEC Dlungwane to invite SADTU to the first education portfolio committee meeting of the year where they can be fully interrogated about their role in KZN education. It’s time to take the gloves off. For far too many years KZN’s ANC-led education MECs have tip- toed around Sadtu. If MEC Dlungwane is serious about curbing the massive problems within KZN’s schools this is what has to be done.

KZN’s Education department needs to start delivering on real priorities which include children passing well enough to do something with their education.

Leave A Comment

*