Disputes and objections have left more than 40 Gauteng schools without a principal for more than three years. Additionally, there are 51 teacher posts that have not been filled permanently for the same period, due to grievances lodged. These posts have been filled on a temporary basis.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi revealed this in a written reply in the provincial legislature to a question that DA spokesperson for education Khume Ramulifho asked. All in all, Lesufi said records showed that there were 53 posts that had not been filled in Gauteng schools due to objections or disputes. The number includes that of 41 principal posts and the rest are related to school management positions.
Gauteng education department spokesperson Steve Mabona told City Press that the disputes were about shortlisting and interview processes. “Disputes do not normally take three years to resolve.
However, the period is interrupted by the fact that, once a ruling is made for the process to be redone, other grievances on the same post are lodged. In some instances, the process may be redone three times because of the grievances lodged,” Mabona explained.
He said the disputes and grievance were usually lodged by the applicants themselves or, in some cases, by school governing bodies (SGBs). SGB representatives sit in on interviews and make recommendations.
“After the grievance is finalised, other grievances are lodged on the redone process. This leads to the delays,” said Mabona.
On Thursday, National Association of School Governing Bodies general secretary Matakanye Matakanye told City Press that the disputes occurred because of corruption. He alleged some candidates bought posts, and others were relatives of the district director or teacher union official or that of the school management.
“The governing body recommends the candidate to be appointed to the head of department, who usually delegates the task to the district director, and they decide to appoint the third person who is a relative or a girlfriend or boyfriend of the director and the SGB objects and the disputes starts,” said Matakanye.
Mabona said the 51 vacant teacher posts, which had not been filled permanently, were not those of ordinary educators, but were management teacher posts that were also not filled because of disputes.
He said the department hoped to fill all the vacant posts as soon as the disputes are finalised and those that must be readvertised were advertised and filled accordingly by SGBs.
Mabona said each dispute was treated based on its merits in accordance with labour laws.
Matakanye said that failure to fill managerial positions in schools was damaging. “A school cannot stay without a manager. A principal manages children, teachers and the resources of the school. If you do not have a permanent manager, people do their own thing in their own time.”
He added that it was also unfortunate that many of these disputes happened in the “poorest of schools” in townships and rural areas, and rarely at former Model C schools. “That is why we often have such instability and high failure rates in these poor schools. It is because of things like these.”
He said the only solution to these issues was to have strong and ethical officials in district and circuit offices, who would be professional when monitoring and handling the recruitment process.
He said the job did not need weak officials who would collaborate with corrupt teacher union officials and manipulate recruitment processes.