‘Overzealous MEC’, Sadtu go head to head over poorly performing principals

2014-02-05 17:34

The MEC of Education in Limpopo, Dikeledi Magadzi, and the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) are at each others’ throats over her decision to reprimand the principals of poorly performing schools.

Last week, Magadzi read the riot act to about 389 principals, district and circuit managers of poorly performing schools in the province. She also asked them to submit turnaround strategies to their districts by the end of February.

Sadtu in Limpopo has lashed out at the MEC, saying a “gung-ho attitude” is not necessary when dealing with such delicate matters.

In a strongly worded statement, the union’s secretary in the province, Matome Raphasha, said: “In a carefully choreographed media spectacle the MEC decided to throw caution to the wind and fired a tirade at the poor principals without due regard to their human dignity and respect, which forms part of their basic human rights. In a highly condescending manner the poor principals were called one by one to make a public declaration of how they were going to improve the results of their schools.”

He said the “overzealous MEC was employing intimidating tactics against the principals”. “We are on record as saying that we will not countenance underperformance of any nature as a union, more so if it comes about as a result of dereliction of duty by those in authority (read principals). Equally, we do not believe that a knee-jerk response will solve some of the problems as the MEC wants to believe,” he said.

If the MEC wants to know what causes poor performance, she should look no further than her department, Raphasha said.

“Just recently the MEC presided over the funeral of a learner who fell into a toilet. Such deathtraps of toilets are ubiquitous by their presence everywhere in the entire province. Do we have to remind the MEC that her department has failed to spend close to R800 million earmarked for school infrastructure in 2013 due to sheer incompetency? As we speak now the majority of schools in the province have to make do with teaching in dilapidated buildings that have no infrastructure,” Raphasha said.

He also complained about the lack of teacher development programmes in the province.

However, Magadzi’s spokesperson, Phuti Seloba, said the MEC would not be intimidated by Sadtu. “Our matrics achieved 70% last year but we have potential to do more. Where there is no productivity, there should be accountability. The MEC told them about commitment. She told them that they needed to ensure that teachers were in class teaching.”

Seloba said there was nothing wrong with the MEC demanding turnaround strategies. The MEC, he said, would also meet with school governing bodies to preach the same message.

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