Education only shifts goalposts

sMinister Naledi Pandor has set the cat among the pigeons.

sMinister Naledi Pandor has set the cat among the pigeons.

She has introduced a set of changes to the Schools Act to force governing bodies to be held accountable for the academic performance at their schools.

The changes will allow provincial education departments to slap governing bodies with written warnings and kick them out if the results are "unacceptably low".

Also contained in the draft legislation is a provision banning principals from giving evidence in court on behalf of governing bodies against the departments.

Hauling ill-equipped and ill-trained governing bodies over the coals for bad results might sound revolutionary - but will hardly achieve the required results.

The worst victims of these drastic measures will be governing bodies in poor communities. These bodies normally consist of individuals with little administrative know-how - but real commitment to playing a key role in the education of their communities.

Instead of introducing penalties, the government should support them by providing training and ensuring that schools under their control are well resourced.

Forcing principals to take sides in disputes between governing bodies and educational officials is the kind of high-handedness that this country can ill afford as it grapples with the legacy of apartheid education.