News clipping – The Mercury – 19 September 2011


Department wants to hire principals

The Basic Education Department intends taking away the power from school governing bodies to hire principals.

Under the (existing) policy, vacancies are advertised by provincial education departments, after which school governing bodies constitute a panel to shortlist and interview candidates. The department then hires a candidate based on the recommendations of the panel.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced this (proposed change) at the National Teachers’ Union conference in Empangeni last week.

“We are changing the appointment of school principals; we want to choose for ourselves,” Motshekga said. She said she found that schools performed better when the department chose principals.
The announcement comes in the wake of the release of the Annual National Assessment results, which showed that pupils in grades 3 and 6 could not count or understand what they had been taught.
Motshekga said research indicated that teachers at township and rural schools only spent 41 percent of class time teaching. She said principals should see themselves as the curriculum leaders and she was concerned that not all principals performed their jobs well.

“Principals are school managers. When I got the report (the Annual National Assessment), my question was where were the teachers. The person who has to supervise (the teachers) is the principal.”
Department spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said the new policy would be taken to the relevant stakeholders and the Education Labour Relations Council for discussion. He said the policy review was not a vote of “no confidence” in school governing bodies.
Federation of Governing Bodies of SA (Fedsa) chief executive Paul Colditz said governing bodies were well-placed to choose the correct principals in the vast majority of cases. He said it was Motshekga’s responsibility to train principals if she was not satisfied with their quality.

“School governing bodies are best placed to determine the best candidates. They know the circumstances of the school and the community (in which a school is placed). A provincial official in the department’s head office has no idea of the needs, circumstances, requirements and challenges of a particular community, and therefore would appoint based on factors including loyalty and union affiliation. Any effort to review the law in this regard will be resisted vehemently by Fedsa,” he said.
Governing Body Foundation KZN chief executive Trevor Bennison said the organisation would not comment until it had received more information. He said the current policy worked well.

By Sinegugu Ndlovu