Durban - Female teachers should further their studies in order to compete with males for top posts in the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education, MEC Peggy Nkonyeni said on Tuesday
Just 36 percent of the 6 248 schools in KZN had female principals, while only two of the 12 districts were led by women, she said.
This is despite 78 percent of teachers in the public sector being women.
At the launch of the female principals support programme at the department’s provincial training academy offices in Glenwood on Tuesday, more than 100 senior teachers, principals, deputy principals, heads of department and the MEC herself called for parity with their male counterparts.
The programme aims to empower women to equip them with skills for key positions.
Nkonyeni urged women to empower themselves for their own development.
“We are encouraging you to enrol for qualifications that will allow you to contest these positions – these men get educated, they have less roles at home, but you have to go back to school,” she said, adding that she was studying towards a PhD.
There were 158 school management posts to be filled across the province before the end of the year, she added. These include posts for principals, deputy principals and school heads of department.
There were also department posts, some with salaries as high as R1.2 million a year.
Nkonyeni said she wanted to see the majority of the posts being filled by women.
Applications for the jobs close on Friday.
One of the two women district directors, Jennifer Baiju, was the programme director at the event.
“We need you to take the baton and run with it. This task we are giving you is not small. Education is a complex department.
“When the president (Jacob Zuma) speaks of radical and sound transformation, we say it cannot happen without us,” Baiju said.
It was a common theme at the launch that women were under strain because of their school commitments and family life.
But Nkonyeni, a former teacher herself, said the teachers had contributed to the problem by not furthering their qualifications, despite the pressures both at home and school.
She also called on the women to be more compassionate in their roles as teachers, urging them to hug their pupils and not to resent their colleagues.
“Resentment causes disease,” she said.
Education superintendent-general Dr Nkosinathi Sishi said the province was committed to bringing gender equality to the workplace. However, he was booed by the women, who demanded parity.
Sishi said it was vital to attract young female principals, those in the 30-39 age category.
Linda Hlongwa, chairwoman of the education portfolio committee in the KZN legislature, told the women: “This programme will be rendered useless to you if you do not rise to the occasion.”
Hlongwa urged the MEC to give women space to demonstrate what they could contribute to the country, saying she should set targets to achieve gender parity in the senior positions.