Activist supports education department’s draft amendment bill
Johannesburg - Education activist Hendrick Makaneta has hailed Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s decision to push for adoption of the draft Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill, which is aimed at stripping school governing bodies (SGBs) of the authority to appoint school principals, deputy principals and heads of departments.
Makaneta said the bill was expected to give the department more powers to prevent the disruption of schooling and reduce corruption in the appointment of school heads.
“One of the reasons South Africa experiences an ailing education system is the high presence of people who have not even been to class, but are given the responsibility to make decisions affecting the entire terrain of education,” he said.
“The government is moving in the right direction by taking power away from SGBs and unions, which have misused the appointment processes to favour their own cadres.”
Makaneta said most SGB members at schools in rural areas knew little about education or the philosophy of teaching and learning, yet had the authority “to decide the fate of hundreds of thousands of pupils throughout the country”.
“This bill will definitely put an end to these unbecoming acts of sabotage, and will hopefully restore public confidence in the entire terrain of education.
“Education transformation remains a highly contested terrain of struggle 25 years after the dawn of democracy. The time for cadre deployment is over. Now is the time to prioritise education in words and deeds,” he said.
“We know that others will argue that the SGBs need to be changed, instead of stripping them of powers to appoint. Our view is that the entire system needs to be changed.
“It is heart-breaking to see someone who has never taught pupils (in the case of some SGB members) being appointed to advise a minister of education when there are so many capable professionals who can do the job better.
“Every time a minister needs advice, the advisers do research. Professionals have readily available answers because they are actively involved in education every day of their lives.”
Makaneta said the draft bill should be debated in Parliament and adopted into law.
His endorsement of the bill came after it was rejected by the National Association of Schools’ Governing Bodies.
General secretary of the National Association of School Governing Bodies Matakanye Matakanya said the bill, if enacted into law, would have dire consequences for communities as it would deny them the right to have a say in appointments at schools.