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Western Cape’s new education chief should do the right thing

Brian Isaacs offers his advice to the new Western Cape Education Department provincial head Brent Walters, encouraging him to be bold as he takes the reigns. Picture: Supplied

Brian Isaacs offers his advice to the new Western Cape Education Department provincial head Brent Walters, encouraging him to be bold as he takes the reigns. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 9, 2021


The Western Cape's the new Head of Education assumed duty on Thursday April 1, 2021. Yes, this is no April Fool’s Day joke. It is real.

We have had various MECs in the Western Cape and the only two I respected were Cameron Dugmore and Yusuf Gabru.

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These two MECs came down to the people on the ground.

They were prepared to listen to ordinary teachers in the trenches especially Yusuf Gabru.

In all his speeches as Education MEC, he made a point to thank teachers for their hard work and attended to the problems of teachers. He was not autocratic.

He believed in excellence but was on hand to assist teachers.

He was bold enough to go against his Head of Education if he thought the wrong decisions were made.

Of all the MECs in the nine provinces, Gabru was the most effective. He gained the confidence of the parents, teachers and students in the Western Cape.

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The MECs for education in the provinces must rescue education from the bureaucrats.

Angie Motshekga must go. She has made too many mistakes to again be given the key portfolio of Basic Education.

As Brent Walters takes charge he must be bold.

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Already he has indicated to Heathfield High that he will not interfere with the disciplinary hearing of the school's brave principal Wesley Neumann for carrying through on a decision made by the School Governing Body.

The SGB had urged parents in June, July and August 2020 to keep their children at home.

President Cyril Ramaphosa listened to the cries of teachers, parents and students for the children to stay at home.

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Yet WCED charged Neumann and Walters has refused to budge.

I would like to offer him some advice as I was a principal who was at one high school for 32 years:

  • be your own person
  • challenge decisions from the ruling party when you think they are wrong.
  • visit the schools of the poor. Listen to their challenges
  • do not close schools
  • do everything in your power to appoint more teachers in the schools
  • compile a list of schools that will be upgraded every two years
  • provide sporting facilities for the school of the poor.
  • have an open door policy.

If the new Walters does this the province's school community will begin to have faith in him.

Walters has made a shaky start by not dismissing the case against Neumann. It is up to him.

He can comply with illogical decisions or he can begin the transformation of Education in the province and therefore in SA.

I would hope he will choose transformation.

* Brian Isaacs obtained a BSc (UWC) in 1975, a Secondary Teacher’s Diploma in 1976, BEd (UWC) in 1981, and MEd (UWC) in 1992. He is a former matriculant, teacher and principal at South Peninsula High School.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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