Report confirms influence in appointment of teachers

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pretoria - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Thursday briefed media on the interim report submitted by a ministerial task team set up to probe allegations of selling of teachers’ posts.

The Minister said the report confirmed there is corruption and undue influence in the appointment of teachers and school principals, there are weaknesses in the system and that the authority of the state and powers of certain stakeholders in the appointment process would need to be reviewed.

The interim report follows allegations of widespread corrupt practices involving the irregular appointment of educators across provinces, districts and schools.

“The basis of the investigation by the task team was to inquire into and report to allegations made in the media regarding the alleged irregular appointment of educators at schools, and the role played by any union and by officials of provincial education departments in these alleged irregular appointments,” said Minister Motshekga.

She said the task team probed a total of 75 cases, 30 of which provided grounds for reasonable suspicion or wrongdoing. 

“The report we have received is still an interim report at this stage but it has uncovered some very concerning tendencies that are being perpetuated in the appointment of teachers and principals.”

She said the department was therefore unable to release the full details of the report because it was at a sensitive stage.

The interim report indicates that government systems have created a situation that allows exploitation of the system, which compromises proper appointments in critical posts such as those of school principals.

This, said Minister Motshekga, has undermined government’s ability to deliver by allowing unions to have a stranglehold on government whereby they call the shots.

“This practice cannot be allowed to continue. As a department, we will engage all our stakeholders and ensure that we put in place a more stringent regime that will allow only those who qualify and are competent to be appointed.

“Merit must be the only determining factor when it comes to appointments, particularly in our schools,” said Minister Motshekga.

She said the ministerial task team was of the view that the dominant influence of unions in the appointment process was made possible by the “feeble and dilatory condition” of districts and circuits.

“There is no doubt that this has permitted unions to move into areas in which they have no business. But now, through the inexorable creeping of nepotism, these sectors of government are as subject to undue influence as every other sector.

“The task team worked through many cases and in the process found that there is evidence of wrong doing. It is for this reasons that a forensic investigation is still continuing. This situation cannot be allowed to persist and I must say that there will be consequences.”

She said the police will be contacted and arrests could follow.

“We believe it is not just about the selling of posts but protecting the sector and maintaining its professionalism in order to ensure quality and efficiency in the education system,” she said.

The task team has also made recommendations that will have implications on the way the department does business. Some of the recommendations need thorough consideration and would be affected through the normal policy processes.

The Minister said once the final report has been submitted and input obtained from stakeholders in the sector, the department will proceed to make the necessary changes required to strengthen systems.

“We will use this report and the recommendations therein to remediate the system and ensure that we bring this rot that has infiltrated education under control.

“This blatant exploitation and corruption will not be tolerated. We commit ourselves to take this report very seriously and take the strongest possible action to ensure that learners’ needs are the priority in education. I need to add that the report will be taken to Cabinet and Parliament for consideration,” said Minister Motshekga. -