Education departments ‘failing to deliver’

2011-07-27 14:09

South Africa’s provincial education departments are failing to deliver solid basic services to primary schools, a report released today by Transparency International (TI) indicated.

According to the report, “Mapping Transparency, Accountability, and Integrity in Primary Education in South Africa”, governance shortfalls may lead to corruption and mismanagement of vital resources, needed to educate a new generation of South Africans.

It was found that schools received their budget allocations late.

This resulted in schools not having the required means to run their services effectively and had particular impact on the poorer non-fee paying schools.

“The governance risk in the relationship between schools and districts is medium and mainly related to integrity and transparency deficits,” the report read.

The document available on TI’s website, is based on responses from more than 1 500 questionnaires completed by school staff, households, and district and provincial officials.

The questionnaires were distributed to 45 schools in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the North West.

The findings also draw on data obtained through school information cards and from focus group interviews conducted with educators, students and school councils.

There was also poor enforcement of rules and regulations by education departments.

This has led to weaknesses in the effectiveness and legitimacy of their work.

A general concern among the schools’ leadership over embezzlement occurring at the provincial level, was also voiced.

At school-level problem areas included low levels of participation, accountability and transparency.

According to the report, there was a lack of participation and support from parents despite efforts to involve them.

“Only one out of three of the Schools Governing Bodies (SGB’s) interviewed indicated that their members attend regularly.

“There is a lack of knowledge of rules and regulations governing some key transactions at the school level, including the arrangements for school fees.”

Staff absenteeism, sexual harassment, safety and infrastructure was also highlighted.

“Three out of four principals estimate that they don’t have the means required to run the schools, and one out of two learners says [they are] not always provided with a desk.”

About 15% of schools had no electricity and 10% no water supply.

One out of four learners indicates that the schools are unsafe and rape and violence are major problems.

Education department spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi said that any report intending to improve the education system was welcomed.

“We welcome any report intended to improve the education system especially the relationship with the department, SGB’s and school principals.”

He said the department would study the report, but has noted that some of the issues were lacking behind new changes and policy directions introduced recently.

“However, the ministry will, after studying the report, provide a detailed analysis and response to the report,” he said.

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