Department blamed for poor performing schools

Pumza Fihlani

Pumza Fihlani

Education bodies are blaming the Education Department for the poor performance at some schools.

Teacher and student unions said that the department's lack of support for schools was the cause of poor performance and not "poor leadership", as the department claims.

This was their reaction to the Gauteng department's threat to close down 200 under- performing schools in the province.

Unions said that the department was trying to "cover up" its failures and was using principals, teachers and pupils as scapegoats.

They said that government structures at all levels should also be held responsible and be held accountable for the poor performance of some schools in Gauteng.

David Balt, spokesman for the National Professional Teacher's Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), said: "Schools do not get support from the department at all levels, from district offices to the MEC's office. Schools are unmonitored throughout the year and then the government is surprised when they do not perform well."

IFP Youth Brigade spokesman, Pat Lebenya-Ntanzi, said: "The ultimatum given to the 200 Gauteng schools appears to be a smoke-screen to deflect attention from the failure of the department and its minister."

Thulas Nxesi, general secretary of the South African Democratic Teacher's Union (Sadtu), said yesterday: "The government's approach is irresponsible. How can they even consider closing schools when we already have a shortage of schools in the province? Closing schools will make matters worse."

The Congress of South African Students (Cosas) also had harsh words for the education department.

"Its approach is completely arrogant. Shutting down schools will not solve the problem. They are taking the easy way out," said Cosas spokesman Buda Tsotetsi.

Sbusiso Xaba, spokesman for the Pan Africanist Youth Congress of Azania (Payco), said the Education Department was using a "blanketed approach" to the matter.

"The department should critically examine each school and find out what each school's problem is. This method will work. Closing down schools will not."