DA wants a former teacher as Education MEC, Sadtu seeks union past

2013-09-30 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL needs a leader in the Education Department who understands the “nuts and bolts” of the education system with at least previous experience as a principal.

At least this is what DA MPL Tom Stokes would like to see in the appointment of a new MEC for Education in the province.

The newly appointed premier and former MEC for Education Senzo Mchunu is expected to announce his successor by Thursday.

Mchunu took over from Zweli Mkhize, who stepped down in August to become ANC treasurer-general on a full-time basis at Luthuli House in Johannesburg.

Speaking to The Witness, Stokes said the next MEC must be someone who has gone through the challenges of running a school. “That person must be able to manage a large organisation, but also inspire officials.”

The KZN Education Department is the largest department in the country and in the province in terms of the number of schools, pupils and budget. It employs about 100 000 officials of which about 88 500 are teachers.

Stokes said the potential MEC must be able to stand up against teacher unions and “make sure that teaching happens in class”.

IFP shadow MEC for Education Mnto­muhle Khawula said the department lacks proper management, and will require someone who can correct all the wrongs and root out corruption.

The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) said a suitable candidate for Sadtu is someone with a teaching and union background.

“Education is complex and we need someone who knows the nitty gritty from early childhood development, Grade 12 to higher education,” said provincial Sadtu secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi.

He said the previous MECs have been unsuccessful because they never appreciated the labour unions, adding that they do not want someone who is “arrogant” and has a “know-it-all attitude”.

The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa president Basil Manuel said this position is critical.

He said the province still suffers from traditional backlogs such as infrastructure, citing schools in the rural area that are in disrepair and in need of urgent attention.

Allen Thompson of the National Teachers’ Union said a suitable candidate would be anyone who understands the operations and meeting the priorities of government. “Or else you’ll be setting that person up for failure,” he added.

KZN School Governing Bodies Association chairperson Reginald Chiliza said they are hoping that the new MEC will follow Mchunu’s footsteps.

Speculation is rife that provincial Scopa chairperson Sipho “KK” Nkosi and chairperson of the education portfolio committee Linda Hlongwa are in the running for the position.

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