Plan to reshape KZN schools

2012-11-30 00:00

EDUCATION MEC Senzo Mchunu yesterday announced an ambitious plan to reshape schooling in KZN.

One proposal calls for the expropriation of private land housing Section 14 schools, which are run by the provincial Education Department, but require lease agreements with landowners.

There are 757 such schools and Mchunu said where necessary, his department wouldn’t hesitate opting for expropriation, but added it would be done “properly according to relevant provisions”.

“The ideal situation is where I don’t have to sign Section 14 agreements,” he told hundreds of people at Glenwood High School in Durban.

His “Transformation of the schooling system” proposal mainly targets schools in townships and rural areas. Key proposals include:

• Building hundreds of classrooms every year for children in Grade R to boost enrolment at foundation level;

• Merging schools with less than 200 children, and even closing those that are unviable;

• Eliminating schools where children from various grades are taught together;

• Creating “model schools”, which will receive major infrastructure funding, equipment and support for achieving outstanding results despite huge obstacles;

• Reducing various categories of schools to primary (Grade 0 to Grade 7) and secondary level (Grade 8 to Grade 12) only; and

• Closing down illegal or “satellite schools”, of which 38 are in KZN.

Mchunu outlined his plan like a Christmas wish list, with scant reference to funding, except for an allocation of R200 million, which he wants set aside for model schools next financial year. So far, 151 deserving schools have been identified.

In addition, he said the transformation would include establishing an agricultural high school in every district, compared to the three that currently operate and service 2,8 million pupils.

Mchunu also wants to build technical high schools that fulfil their role in more than just name.

And he called for more maritime schools and a “high focus” academy for maths, science and technology.

For now, the proposal remains just that and the provincial legislature still needs a full briefing from Mchunu before it can move to adopt and fund it.

Education officials, union members, business representative, traditional leaders and various other organisations in attendance largely approved of the transformation plan. Some omissions, like a programme to help failing schools, provision of sanitary pads for girls and security concerns, were also brought to his attention.

The chairperson of the education portfolio committee Linda Hlongwa, suggested “model schools” should include one foreign language in their curriculum. French was the proposal, said Hlongwa.

She also called for the revitalisation of historic schools like Adams College in Amanzimtoti and questioned how the department would fund the consolidation of small schools, while taking into account the needs of pupils in remote areas.

Another audience member asked what plans were afoot to stem the drop-out rate.

Mchunu said he has appointed various task teams to keep forging ahead. He will brief the media further in Durban today.

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