BASIC Education Minister Angie Motshekga has warned that the department will deal harshly with principals and teachers who abandon their duties and concentrate on matters they are not employed to do.

The minister's reaction followed her unexpected visit yesterday to Masopha High School in Bolobedu, outside Modjadjiskloof in Limpopo, where she found that school principal Ronny Morwasetlha was absent.

After meeting with teachers at the school Motshekga said she had established that Morwasetlha had been absent from work since Monday because her officials had visited the school earlier this week but never found him.

Motshekga's visit to the school formed part of five schools she visited unannounced in the Mopani and Vhembe districts yesterday.

Her visit started at Khubudi High School in Rapitsi village, where she discovered that out of 375 pupils enrolled, 200 were from child-headed families.

Motshekga said she was told that many girls fell pregnant because they lived with boyfriends .

According to information that came out during the minister's visit, the police visited the school at least three times a week to arrest boys who were using drugs. The school had produced a 13percent pass rate last year.

"The situation at the schools I visited is out of control and tough measures will be taken against those involved," Motshekga said.

At Masopha High School she and her entourage were shocked to learn that most of the pupils were not wearing school uniforms.

The school produced only a 14, 8percent pass rate last year and had been performing badly for several years.

Pupils at Masopha High School told Sowetan that there were many pregnant learners who could not cope with school work because they allegedly spent much time with boyfriends in shebeens.

Motshekga indicated that with the Mopani district executive mayor Joshua Matlou's assurance that he would engage traditional leaders in the area, the high rate of shebeens operating near schools would be reduced.