Motshekga guns for officials – but not teachers

2014-12-07 15:00

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The basic education department’s district directors, circuit managers and curriculum advisers will now have to sign “binding performance agreements and work plans” – or be axed.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced this when she released the Annual National Assessment results on Thursday in Diepsloot, north of Joburg.

Surprisingly, her initiative has the backing of the powerful SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), which has been vocally opposed to its members signing performance contracts in recent years.

But Motshekga doesn’t expect ordinary teachers to sign the contracts, which is probably the reason Sadtu is backing her this time.

The union vowed at its October congress not to accept performance contracts for teachers.

Motshekga said on Thursday none of her plans designed to improve the education system can work without accountability.

“Hence, we have undertaken the massive task of developing a binding performance agreement and work plans that officials throughout the system will sign,” she said.

These performance agreements will be implemented next month, according to Motshekga’s spokesperson, Troy Martens.

“Failing to perform to required standards must always lead to the performance management and development scheme programmes for professional development, skills and capability building,” Martens said.

“Should failure to perform persist, this will culminate in the application of the implementation of the prescribed processes for management of incapacity and poor performance.”

Motshekga said: “Key performance indicators are linked to, among other things, pupil progression. The indicators will be enforced both at provincial and national levels.”

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said that officials “have got to perform”.

“Schools have no support because there is no accountability,” said Maluleke.

“Many of the people in those offices would have failed at the school level and were probably not employed on merit. We support that initiative. We must hold them accountable.”

Minister orders pupils to stop, drop and read!

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga wants compulsory reading periods in all public schools.

After releasing the Annual National Assessment results at Muzomuhle Primary School in Diepsloot on Thursday, Motshekga said she was implementing a “drop all and read” period in schools, which would involve pupils stopping whatever classwork they were doing and reading instead to boost literacy levels.

Just 18% of the country’s Grade 9s who wrote the Annual National Assessments managed to score 50% or higher in their first additional language tests, a tiny climb from 17% last year.

Only 48% of Grade 9s achieved 50% or more in their home language papers, slightly up from 37% in 2013.

Last month, City Press reported on a Unisa study that used a school to test what happens when pupils reach Grade?4 without reading at all during the foundation phase. Researchers found that children were functionally illiterate because they had no building blocks.

From next year, teachers will be expected to organise reading activities in each lesson, and the department says it will print and distribute 1.2?million books produced by the Sunday Times, titled South African Stories for Children, to Grade 4s

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