No room for slackers

2011-01-19 00:00

A CHILD who fails is a child who has been failed by the department.

That is the approach the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education will be taking this year as 2011 ushers in a new academic year.

In a press briefing earlier this year at which the significant improvement in the 2010 matric results was announced, MEC Senzo Mchunu made it clear he had no plans of putting down the whip as he further cracks down on the poor performers.

However, as well as homing in on underperforming schools, focusing on individual subjects will be made a priority will in an attempt to improve results, particularly in subjects like mathematics, which is still under the 50% pass average in the province.

Over and above this, even schools that should have done well but might have fallen short on their results, will be reined in.

Elaborating on Mchunu’s comment at the briefing, ministerial spokesperson Muntu Lukhozi said the department is currently preparing for a KZN Education Summit to be held around mid-February.

Here education heavyweights will strategise and come up with workable plans to improve the education system.

“The curriculum and education specialists, or what is referred to as the provincial intervention team, have held their first meetings to chart a way forward,” said Lukhozi.

This intervention team was established in August last year to look into poorly performing schools following a strategic session that, for the first time, analysed and dissected the results of the 2010 March and June common tests as written in each district.

“In 2011, the provincial intervention team started working even before the schools opened, which is different from 2010 when the team was introduced to start working in August.

“They will be visiting schools from the first day of opening, focusing on schools that will now be referred to as non-performers [schools with a 0-20% pass-rate] and underperformers [schools with a 20-60% pass-rate]. But this time, this will also include schools that are above 60%, but are not consistent.”

This means that intervention will take place where performance is gradually slipping, despite the school achieving, for instance a 98% pass rate.

“It’s important to find out what the problems are in that particular school because any child that fails is somebody’s child who’s been failed by the department. It is important to remember that these children are sometimes their family’s only hope for a better life,” added Lukhozi.

“Don’t think for a second that department officials are in anyway exempt from accountability.”

Ahead of the summit in February, workshops will be held by the different components of the department with a view to pinpointing areas that stagnate the system or those that make it unworkable, Lukhozi said.

“The intention is to ensure that officials in the department are sensitised to the role and the contribution they have in the child’s success in the classroom.

“It shouldn’t just be business as usual,” Lukhozi concluded.

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