KZN ‘not to merge schools’

2014-07-12 00:00

THERE are no plans to merge Model C schools with township schools in KwaZulu-Natal along the lines being proposed in Gauteng.

Earlier this week Gauteng’s Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he had appointed a team to investigate the merging of Model C schools with township schools to improve the quality of education. Such “merged schools” would operate under a single principal and governing body, with a single bank account.

According to Lesufi, the preliminary report indicates this is “do­able”.

Asked if such a system was envisaged for KZN, provincial Education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said “not necessarily”.

“The dynamics of the province like Gauteng cannot be compared with that of KwaZulu-Natal,” he said. “Here we have our own programme called the Transformation of the Schooling System, which derives its mandate and legitimacy from the national policy.

“This programme deals with issues like merging of viable and non-viable schools, doing away with multi-grading, renaming of schools and numerous other aspects of transformation of the schooling system … it is being implemented as we speak.”

Lesufi, previously Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s spokesperson, was appointed Gauteng Education MEC after the May elections.

On Wednesday, Lesufi said the Annual National Assessments (ANAs) would be scrapped in regard to the lower school grades but would be done at a senior level instead.

Lesufi’s statement followed earlier reports in which Motshekga said the ANAs would be done away with from grades one, two, three, four and five and only implemented for designated senior grades.

The ANA system was instituted in 2011 by Motshekga to determine pupils’ levels of competency in literacy and numeracy and address the school dropout rate. When last year’s matric class began their school career in 2002, there were 1 261 827 pupils; by the time of final exams that number had fallen to 562 112.

As the ANAs are designed to pinpoint problems early on in pupils’ progress through the grades, the proposal to scrap them at these grades appears inconsistent, but according to the minister’s spokesperson, Troy Martens, the previous ANAs have done their job. “They identified where the problems are … We are now looking at more strategic ways of dealing with them.”

Martens emphasised that the ANAs were not being scrapped and that this year’s ANA would continue as planned.

The minister said that continuing the ANAs year after year was like a farmer “not measuring his prize pig every day”, according to Martens, and that was a pointless exercise.

Martens said the Education Department is now “upping the support of districts” and will be sending out teams to develop “implementation plans” to correct areas of weakness identified by the ANAs.

• Stephen.Coan@witness.co.za

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