Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has sent KwaZulu-Natal education officials packing over what provincial officials called a “generic, poor and downright useless” matric turnaround plan.
City Press has learnt that senior officials in the provincial department, including district directors, started refining their matric turnaround strategy on Monday evening and finished early on Tuesday morning.
Motshekga, at an education summit in Durban last Friday, had rejected their initial plan, saying it was too “generic and without direction”.
A senior provincial education executive said Motshekga was furious about it.
“And the premier [Senzo Mchunu] was also angry.”
He said the minister had indicated it “says nothing about the challenges facing the province. Although she didn’t say it in as many words, the feeling was that the plan was downright useless. She tore it to pieces and threw it out.”
City Press spoke to four senior education officials who had attended the meeting – one inside the national basic education department and three senior provincial education officials.
One of the provincial officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “On Tuesday, we sat again with all district directors and the team from curriculum and formulated a new plan to address the decline. We sat until 2am in the morning.”
Last year, the province’s matric results dropped to 60.7%, from 69.7% in 2014 and 77.4% in 2013.
Another senior provincial official, who also attended the series of meetings, said the plan Motshekga shot down was first presented at an education lekgotla that the minister called last month in Centurion.
“The same plan was presented in Centurion and was presented by a clueless junior official when other provinces sent deputy directors-general to make presentations. The plan was also presented to the provincial ANC leadership sometime last month,” she said.
“Again, it was presented to the parliamentary portfolio committee on education, which visited us three weeks ago.”
The official told City Press the committee had also rejected the plan, and asked the department’s leadership to refine it.
“Angie felt that the plan was too broad. She told us that teachers and pupils should be in class and that no union meetings should be conducted during school hours. Principals and management should be orderly.”
Another senior education executive said Motshekga “told us that we should face the reality that we have no plan”.
“She tore into the plan, saying it was very broad and lacked direction. She demanded a plan with specifics. Motshekga also met with all district directors and circuit managers in a bid to try to understand their problems.”
The official said Motshekga lambasted officials who used the absence of resources as an excuse for bad performance.
National basic education department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said Motshekga “wanted something measurable, practical and to the point ... she wanted people to be accountable”.
A source said that the new plan was presented to the minister in Empangeni, northeast of Durban, on Tuesday, and she accepted it.