School heads lack skills, Manuel says

2011-11-16 22:39

Cape Town - Principals at state schools often do not know how to manage, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel told MPs on Wednesday.

Briefing members of Parliament's public service portfolio committee on the newly-released National Development Plan (NDP), he said the process of appointing school heads needed to be changed.

"We must change the process of appointing principals. In fact, principals should be properly trained and equipped to manage schools, and frequently they don't know how to manage. They don't know how to oversee teachers."

Among other things, the NDP calls for the introduction of minimum qualifications for school principals.

Manuel was also critical of some maths teachers, who, he said, needed regular testing to ensure they were up to the task of teaching pupils.

"We must regularly test teachers. Some of the results we've looked at in the diagnostic of teachers who teach grade one to three maths - they can't pass. Grade 4 to 6 maths, you're in the low 30%.

"If you don't know enough to transmit this to an 8-year-old, what chance in life does that child have?"

Manuel noted that the NDP contained a proposal to link teacher pay to pupil performance.

He said there was a "desperate need" for maths, science, technology and English teachers.

"If you look at the class that passed Matric in 2010, there were just under 1.4 million learners who enrolled in grade one in January 1999," Manuel said.

"Of that 1.4 million, just under 600 000 wrote the exam last year. About 430 000 passed. And of those that passed, only 13% had university passes and an additional 12% had diploma passes."

One of the aims of the NDP was to take the "lottery" out of schooling and improve children's chances in life.

"When people come through schooling that doesn't equip them, finding a job is very difficult because the basic skills are not in place."

Among other things, the NDP calls for increasing the higher education participation rate, from 17 to 30%; and trebling the number of university science and maths course entrants by 2030.

Further, it looks to South Africa's universities producing over 100 PhD graduates per million population by that year.

Manuel said this would require a five-fold increase.

"I think we're [producing] about 21 [PhDs] per million at the moment," he said.

The draft plan, which was released last Friday for public scrutiny, also proposes that work permits be granted to foreigners who graduate from South African universities.

  • Arvin - 2011-11-16 22:55

    If the Govt lowers the bar and expect failures (pupils who do not want to learn) to be pushed into the next grade irrespective of the pupils capability, then the best School Head and teachers will not do any good. the key word is "ATTITUDE" both of Parents and pupils alike. spare the rod and spoil the child. Teaching environment must be conducive to learning. Problem is mainly in rural areas. Previously Indian & White schools still perform at a better level. Governing Bodies should not do Management appointments. Let the Department do it on Qualification, experience & merit.

  • phathuchicos - 2011-11-16 23:06

    thank you is the time to work instead of talking.

      Francois - 2011-11-16 23:57

      The Azanian discovered a PC, how quaint! Minister Manuel the problem sits right there next to your president in Vavi and Motshekga and Zuma himself with a bit of Mbeki legacy. Start by acting against SADTU teachers! Start by acting against an MEC of education who attends Zuma's court hearing instead of seeing to it that children in Gauteng gets a good education. How about you make a test of skills compulsory for all teachers and the those who don't pass get replaced by former teachers that Hypocrite Mbeki fired because of his colouring book project? Say to the teachers you have 6 months and then you will get 100% for a test like this otherwise you will be fired and replaced. Also stop the ANCYL to use schools as political tools.

  • MaxOdin.SA - 2011-11-17 00:13

    Trevor Manual mays a play for the presidency............ Yes I spent so much on a car. It's done so now I'm saying forgive me father. .....

      Alan - 2011-11-18 21:36

      @ Maxodin... dont understand a word of your gibberish but yes, Wish we had a hard working, honest, uncorruptable president like the Trevor Manual we know

  • Blip - 2011-11-17 01:57

    Don't appoint a principal unless he/she has actual tested and proven worth and quality having come through the ranks of middle-management (heads of departments) and senior-management (deputy-principalship). And part of the in-service training in these pathway positions must be a thorough step-by-step exposure to managing and accounting for pretty large budgets, covering property maintenance. It's really not just about managing the teaching of children.

      Soekie - 2011-11-17 02:28

      Yes, and this applies to all other careers as well. However much they will hate to hear it but unfortunately affirmative action has a large role to play in the current terrible situation that exists within the Education Department. Get properly qualified teachers and principals back and things will start getting ahead again but it will also only get ahead if the specific Ministers take responsibilty and pride in their jobs. Sort out the strikes and that will already supply a healthier environment for our kids. I am also quite sure that there are so many suitably qualified teachers to employ accross all races. Keep politics and own corrupt hidden agendas out of schools and universities.

  • JohannVKruger - 2011-11-17 09:16

    The 21st Century is the century of “Learn, un-learn and re-learn”. Technology changes and multiplies at a beyond belief rate. Choices overwhelm the every person because of not being prepared and therefore not ready to compete on national or even more on international level. The government should put Research & Development first to determine what workforce skills will be required to be competitive in future (20/30 years from now). Curriculums should be developed to complement those skills.

  • Murechen - 2011-11-17 10:31

    Everyday he gives us "pearls of wisdom" but no proper strategy for implementation and what's going to happen is the gov will implement without a proper plan and without proper consultation with all parties and when it fails, we'll start this process all over again.

  • Nikki Bodenstein - 2011-11-18 20:52

    Yeah uhhhh that statement extends across all levels of government too! Tell us something we don't know!

  • madsipho - 2011-12-06 10:07

    School lack of skill? No Manuel, government lack of skill to appoint skilled leaders and fight corruption...Bloody Hypocrites!

  • mzijimmym - 2012-03-26 16:05

    The learner educator ratio in township schools is also a negetive factor.Teachers are unable to give sufficient attention to individual learners in 30 minute period where the class is made in over 40 learners.

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