'Jobs for cash' probe recommends limiting unions at schools

2016-05-27 15:49
Technology is set to revolutionise education. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Technology is set to revolutionise education. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

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Cape Town - Teachers and principals could be banned from being office bearers in political parties or unions if recommendations following the "jobs for cash" probe are carried through, Parliament heard on Friday.

School governing bodies could also have their wings clipped regarding their right to recommend people for senior posts.

These recommendations are contained in the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) findings prepared for Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, following a probe into allegations reported by City Press in 2014. The findings were presented to Parliament's committee on basic education for discussion.

The team, headed by Professor John Volmink, found that there was some truth to the claims in six of the nine provinces, and had given itself until August to prepare evidence for handing over to the police for corruption charges.

DA MP Gavin Davis said Motshekga should have been present, given the political nature of many of the findings. Sadtu is aligned with the majority party, the ANC, to which Motshekga belongs.

Motshekga had sent apologies for missing the meeting.

"It will require political will to carry it out," said Davis, who wants those implicated to be suspended immediately.

120 cases in 6 provinces

Davis also objected to the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) not being present after being fingered in the allegations. The initial release of the report was delayed so that unions such as Sadtu could read through it first. The full report was finally released on May 20 and is available on the department's website. The shortened presentation to Parliament made no references to any specific union.

The investigation looked into 120 cases in six provinces - Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West. It emerged that some cases were based on hearsay or malice, and that in some cases, people were too scared to talk.

The team found that the process of appointing people at schools in South Africa was "riddled with inconsistencies" with schools with weaker authority being taken advantage of. In the Northern Cape and Western Cape, there was a balance of power between Sadtu and other unions.

"So the Department of Education is effectively in control of education in one third of South Africa's provinces," the report claimed.

A contributing factor was that there had been a wave of principals retiring - up from 400 in 2008 to an expected 1 500 in 2017.

No suspensions or arrests, yet

Volmink said the team did not start with a "judgment in our back pocket", but the data had pointed to Sadtu's dominance, and the potential for abuse in this.

"The MTT does not take issue with the fact that Sadtu is a powerful union. We cannot blame Sadtu for being powerful," he said.

"However, when one has dominance and you become reckless about that dominance and you use your dominance in a way that hurts the other parties; it is at that point that one becomes liable," he said.

Director General Hubert Mathanzima Mweli said the department was grateful to everybody who came forward with information, and to City Press.

There had been no suspensions or arrests yet, but that would come, he said

"We are not interested [in to] which union they belong, our interest is to correct the wrong that happens in the system."

He told the committee that the department had to consider centralised teacher recruitment, as well as the licensing of teachers.

The report recommended, amongst other things, that:
- Illegal action must be reported to police, and disciplinary action be taken against those who are in charge of checking against corruption but fail to do so;
- The department must set up a unit that whistleblowers can report contraventions to;
- The department of education must regain control in all provinces with a clear distinction between itself and unions;
- The powers of school governing bodies to make recommendations for senior posts above level 2 must be removed through an amendment to the SA Schools Act and the Employment of Educators Act;
- The observer status of unions regarding recruitment needs to be renegotiated.

Read more on:    cape town  |  parliament 2016  |  education

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