EC cracks whip on serial under-achievers

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pretoria - The Eastern Cape Department of Education has vowed to tighten the grip on underperforming schools as the province will be battling to improve its matric results this year.

"We will not cut any slack for serial under-achievers, the leadership of those schools must convince us why we should not remove them so that we place competent leaders to turn around the situation in those schools," the department's spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said.

Pulumani said over 80 percent of textbooks had already been delivered to schools around the province and all would have received their learner support material by the end of the week.

Pulumani said the department has already compiled a comprehensive programme of visits to all schools that had a pass rate of 0 - 30 percent. "Each of the schools will have to respond to a template of questions that will help us in developing site-specific interventions determined by each school's specific malady."

The Eastern Cape, one of the worst-performing provinces in the country, showed a slight improvement when its 2009 matric pass rate stabilised at around 50 percent. Pulumani said the department will be working to increase the figure in 2010.

"We are obliged to ensure that interventions have committed drivers in the form of circuit managers and subject advisors; this also includes ensuring that learner and support materials are at schools from the first day of the school year," he said.

The number of teachers in the province will increase from 65 313 to 69 390 this year. This follows the conversion of all temporal educators to a permanent status late last year and the process is expected to be finalised by the end of the month.

In his address last week following the release of the results, Education MEC Mahlubandile Qwase laid bare the challenges that faced the province but promised a 2010 that will commit all stakeholders to assume responsibility for improving the quality of education.

"The most important element for this PoA (programme of action) that can no longer be neglected is accountability that will be gauged through credible instruments of monitoring and evaluation of performance across the whole system," said Qwase.

He warned he would not tolerate any more acts of dereliction of duty, "perpetual underperformance or callous disregard of basic terms of employment" by anyone in the employ of the department.

Eastern Cape teachers have been notorious in the past for their absenteeism especially on pay days. The MEC has vowed to root out the practice.

The department will be guided by its "master plan" that has been developed to guide learning and teaching throughout the year.