‘Rogue schools adding grades’

2013-02-12 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Education Department has expressed concern at claims that some schools with low pupil numbers have introduced additional grades without authorisation, because they fear being closed when they are rationalised.

“Clearly this is a case where people manipulate the sensitivity of the stage of transition to create confusion about what it is,” said department head Dr Nkosinathi Sishi.

“We have not asked schools to go ahead and do this. Even if principals feel that they embrace change, the system does not work like that.”

He was reacting to allegations made by Inkatha Freedom Party education spokesperson ­Mntomuhle Khawula at a meeting of the KZN Legislature’s education portfolio committee on Friday.

Khawula said he thought the rationalisation of schools was still under discussion until he found during school visits that it was in fact being implemented.

He said some principals were introducing grades four and five without approval, especially in Umlazi, when they had not received feedback on their applications.

Khawula said principals embarked on this move “because I fear my school might be closed and I decided to open this class”.

“In these instances, there are no teachers supplied for these grades.

“Some teachers complain that they are being overburdened. These already extended grades do not have workbooks,” he said.

The report comes almost two weeks after Education MEC Senzo Mchunu told a dinner in Durban that the education system was poised for radical transformation.

Mchunu had said the days of schools with 20 to 50 pupils were numbered.

“Small schools amount to no schools,” he told his guests, adding that school mergers were possible and that transport would be provided for affected pupils.

Although Sishi did not say how the rationalisation programme would unfold, he declared that his department had found a formula to transform education in KZN.

He said the process would involve school governing bodies deliberating and agreeing on the matter in a partnership to result in better quality education.

“We are open to be persuaded differently to improve in certain areas. Anybody who gets between us and school governing bodies in getting this thing right will not be tolerated,” he said.

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