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KwaZulu-Natal - The province needed to protect the quality of education offered at KwaZulu-Natal’s top schools, but still ensure that all pupils were granted access to the good schooling the constitution sought to guarantee them.
This balance needed to be struck when deliberating on school admissions, the head of the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department, Nkosinathi Sishi, said yesterday.
Addressing the launch of the department’s 2013 admissions campaign, Sishi urged the officials, principals, governing body members and teachers’ unions gathered at the event to band together to achieve this aim.
The department is determined to ensure that school admissions are finalised by the end of October, so that lessons begin on the first day of the 2013 academic year, and the snaking queues and tears associated with last-minute enrolments are averted.
As Sishi pleaded for efficiency in school administration, he also clarified the contentious matter of school admissions. It was a difficult subject that needed to be handled in a “mature” manner.
Sishi said the responsibility devolved upon him by the constitution was not an easy task.
The challenge posed by the education system was the underperformance in certain schools, which saw parents applying for their children to be enrolled at better ones.
There were, however, limits to how many pupils classrooms at these centres of excellence could accommodate before the quality of education was undermined. When deliberating on admissions issues, it had to be borne in mind that children in well-performing schools also had a right to a good education, and that in making a decision to solve one problem, one did not create another.
Sishi assured that the rights of children who lived “next door” to schools were of equal importance.
Later, MEC Senzo Mchunu, during his address, affirmed that the capacity of a school had to be weighed against the fact that schools “belong to all children”. Mchunu said that while it was true that when a school was full, it was full, this reason was not to be advanced to exclude children on the basis of some “other agenda”.
In each of the 12 education districts, admissions committees had been set up to deal with parents’ complaints, and would intervene if necessary.
Meanwhile, Mchunu pleaded with principals and his district, circuit and ward managers not to descend upon department headquarters, Truro House, three or four months down the line next year complaining that schools were still without maths teachers.
He also warned that pupils’ tardiness should not be tolerated if the province wanted to produce engineers and doctors. He said if teachers allowed the 2.8 million pupils in KZN to arrive at school late, this would set them on the wrong course.
He was also determined to root out teacher absenteeism.
School violence and mismanagement of school funds remained on his agenda. In the first three months of this year, five pupils died during altercations on school premises. - The Mercury