Durban - Newly sworn in KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu has vowed to act swiftly and decisively on several ills plaguing the province's schools including selling of teacher posts, teacher absenteeism and teachers sleeping with pupils.
Mshengu was at the Durban Girls' High School on Friday to preside over the official opening of the school's multipurpose Education Centre.
He urged the leadership of Durban Girls' High School to share the school's newly built R16.5 million multipurpose educational centre with disadvantaged township and rural schools.
Mshengu, who is only four days into office, presided over the official opening of the state of the art facility as he made his first public appearance since taking over the reins from Mthandeni Dlungwane at the province's education department.
"Our schools should be an environment where the parents should be comfortable that when they send their children to learn they will get an education that brightens their future, so if now the children get to school and teachers see girlfriends and partners in them it becomes a problem.
"Our approach to this is simple and it's that we want to protect our children's future and we won't beat around the bush on the issue of teachers who date and sleep with pupils. We will follow all the relevant laws to deal with those teachers appropriately because a teacher is like a parent to the pupils and when the pupils are at school they should view the teacher as an educator but also as a parent not a boyfriend or girlfriend," Mthethwa said.
He also added that they would be clamping down on teacher absenteeism and that they would school principals accountable.
"We need to go back to basics and the principal should be held accountable for the running of the school, so if a certain school has a high level of teacher absenteeism the first stop should be the principal and they must account to their whereabouts," Mshengu said.
He said that the selling of teacher posts was one of the first issues he was briefed about when he took over as Education MEC and that they would work around the clock to install systems that would curb this trend.
"We firstly want to hire competent teachers who know their job because this will lead to a stop to the selling of posts. While I was on the outside I would often hear of stories whereby a chairperson of the School Governing Body is given a goat and someone gets a post, so it is those type of things for which we will activate systems to prevent quickly.
"I understand that part of the interventions is to centralise the hiring of teachers so that we don't get people who don't even know how the schooling system operates getting bribed for teacher posts. We are going to be very strict on that because if we seek to produce the best learners, we need the best teachers," Mshengu said.