KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Senzo Mchunu has unveiled a master plan to overhaul the provinces schooling system.

Durban - KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Senzo Mchunu has unveiled a master plan to overhaul the province’s schooling system.

Spurred on by teachers who score 10 percent in tests on the subjects they teach and classrooms “shockingly” devoid of teaching and learning aids, Mchunu made public a draft discussion document on the task ahead on Thursday.

“Our schooling system is almost in tatters from where I stand,” he told government officials and union and civil society representatives in Pietermaritzburg during the first of several consultative meetings. There could be no improvement in education unless the school system underwent radical change.

The revamp will include:

- Increasing access to technical, agricultural and maritime schools.

- Ensuring that children are able to enrol in two years of early childhood development programmes before they start Grade 1.

- Creating uniformity in having only two types of schools (primary, from Grade R to Grade 7, and secondary, from Grade 8 to Grade 12).

- Proposing the merging and closing of KZN’s 1 372 so-called non-viable schools.

Non-viable schools have fewer than 200 pupils and are plagued by problems such as low government funding and few teachers. They include 757 schools on private property – often farms – which are referred to as Section 14 schools.

A proposal to close 27 schools in the Western Cape has been criticised.

However, education experts, such as the University of KZN’s Edith Dempster, have argued that in certain instances tough choices need to be made about schools that struggle to attract teachers or that employ unqualified staff.

Mchunu has emphasised that the principles on which the draft document rests are “decisions by consensus” and “consultation, consultation, consultation”.

The document does not stipulate time frames, or cost.

Mchunu is to present the document to all 12 education districts, leading up to a meeting on November 29 when stakeholders will respond.

He took the opportunity to say he did not believe that most teachers affiliated to the SA Democratic Teachers Union were drunkards, on drugs or in debt, as anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele had said. - The Mercury