‘Exodus’ of pupils has MEC worried

2010-04-22 00:00

THE KZN Education Department is researching the growing trend of pupils abandoning some schools, supposedly to enter better quality schools.

Speaking to journalists before presenting his budget yesterday, Education MEC Senzo Mchunu said he and his team of top managers became concerned by what they saw on unannounced school visits.

The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union first raised the issue earlier this year, complaining about what it termed an “exodus” from township schools because ­pupils and their parents view former model C schools as being better.

The MEC’s unannounced visits are part of a turnaround strategy for poorly performing schools. The department wants teachers, members of the provincial legislature, ward managers and councillors to play a more visible “big brother” role in schools.

Mchunu said he has visited about 20 schools this year.

“We are aware of the problem. It is worrying and we are seeking to address it. I think it is natural for people to search for better schools, but I think the negative picture it then creates is that we need to build bigger classrooms to accommodate those pupils coming in,” said Mchunu.

He said the short-term solution they are working on is a 10-prong intervention strategy for schools that obtained a pass rate of 60% or less in the 2009 matric exams.

The MEC said ward managers can no longer be as surprised as department heads when they visit schools, adding that it is time for ward managers to “account for their status”.

He said the visits by ward managers and subject advisers will intensify teacher support and “ensure that all aspects of schooling are factored into the time­tabling and that the curriculum coverage is congruent with the time spent in the classroom”.

The department plans to place more emphasis on safety in schools, Mchunu added, and to encourage greater community involvement.

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