R4.6m probe into mismanagement at public schools

By NONTOBEKO MTSHALI Time of article published Mar 8, 2012

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NONTOBEKO MTSHALI

The Gauteng department of Education has spent R4.6 million on investigations into school mismanagement.

And it is conducting 85 forensic probes in the province’s schools.

Department spokesman Charles Phahlane said the R4.6m was used to hire private firms to probe the cases and thus avoid the investigations being influenced by those been probed.

In recent weeks The Star has reported on cases where public school principals are being probed for financial mismanagement.

Pierre du Plessis, associate professor at the University of Johannesburg’s department of education leadership and management, said the fact that principals had no formal management training was a major contributor to the mismanagement of schools.

“There have been short courses for principals to upgrade their qualifications, but many don’t even know how to start and manage a school budget,” he said.

In terms of the SA Schools Act, the school governing body (SGB) was in charge of managing the budget, but in many cases, SGBs themselves lacked the expertise.

“In many cases the principals have had to take over this role because SGBs… have never had proper training. You can’t train someone in two or three days about how to control a budget… some schools have budgets that run into millions.”

The introduction of a two-year education, leadership and management course in 2007 was turning the situation around.

“The course was made compulsory around 2008/9. It covers things like financial management and school policy. The results have been positive… We’ve seen a huge influx of people, not just principals but teachers as well, signing up for the course.”

But, Du Plessis said, the Departments of Basic Education and Higher Education and Training needed to be more aggressive in getting people, not just principals, to do the course as they were the future principals.

The director for teacher training at the Department of Higher Education and Training, Whitfield Green, said a new qualification policy for educators, from teachers through to principals, was gazetted in July.

“As the norms and standards have been replaced by the new policy, all qualifications based on them must be phased out. July 2014 is set as the date when the last group of students can be registered on the old programmes, including the Advanced Certificate in Education.”

Cases of mismanagement:

St George Primary School, Ennerdale

The school has not had any formal management structure since 2007, after the principal was assaulted during an industrial action. The SGB said the principal was in and out of school because of his injuries, and the department had failed to appoint an acting principal.

SGB chairman Farouk Jardine said the main reason for the delay was corruption between unions and district office officials.

Fons Luminis Secondary School in Diepkloof, Soweto

The principal, Lempe Motumi, has a pending criminal case of fraud against him. He was placed on a precautionary transfer and is reporting to the district office for allegedly mismanaging school funds. Motumi was transferred after teachers downed chalk last week, saying they wouldn’t lift a finger until he was dismissed.

Kiasha Park Primary School, Lenasia South

The principal was suspended pending an investigation by the department into allegations that he mismanaged the school and came to school drunk. His conduct came to the department’s attention after a tip-off by LeadSA.

Sandringham High School, Joburg

Principal Logan Naidoo is under investigation after it was found that on some pupils’ registration forms were notes of amounts referred to as “donations” – from R500 to R3 000 – requested from parents. Staff alleged these enabled children to attend the school after they had been rejected.

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