Strong support base for women principals

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pretoria - In keeping with the spirit of Women’s Month, the Department of Basic Education has launched support networks for women principals.

The programme is aimed at celebrating and promoting the development of women who are in school leadership roles across the country.

Themed ‘Female Principals Working Together to Inspire Others’, the networks will provide a platform for women principals to engage with each other and explore the working environment, challenges, their roles and how to sustain leadership initiatives in the education sector.

Speaking at the launch, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the support networks were vital for both self-development and adding quality in the classroom.

“For me, what happens in the classroom is always key. The extent to which we’re empowered as women leaders influences our output and value-add in our schools and communities. It is important for the provision of quality education to all children.

“Educating a woman is educating a nation. That has not changed as yet. We must capitalise on it,” Motshekga told the more than 100 principals from the nine provinces in attendance.

This initiative came about after it was proven statistically that although the bulk of the teacher corps is made up of women, few women educators are in managerial position.

Female teachers overwhelmingly dominate the ranks of teaching, accounting for 257 633 teachers (68.3%), while there are 119 579 male teachers (31.7%) in public schools in the country.

However, current stats reveal that there are only 8 210 female principals and 14 337 male principals appointed in permanent posts.

Female principals represent only 36.4% of all principals in the country, while 63.6% are male.

Department records also reveal that the majority of female principals (57.6%) are between 50 and 59 years old, followed by the 40-49 age group (31.4%). Only 2.2% of women principals are in the 30-39 years age group.

Motshekga said these figures were not representative of government’s vision of redressing gender equity in the employment of women managers, in particular school principals.

“The situation is even compounded by the fact that our system is not doing much to attract younger female principals between the ages of 30 and 39 years.”

She attributed this to patriarchy in society, which associates women with parenting and nurturing, while and men are paid for employment.  

Motshekga said the psychosocial challenge of women’s internal subornation was another issue contributing to the lower number of women in managerial positions.

The minister said the department wanted to change these misconceptions and create and sustain more leadership opportunities for women.

“We remain committed to increasing women’s participation in formal and informal leadership roles across the country and to strengthening women’s participation in decision-making and community-building.

“The sooner we do these things the better,” she said, adding that the stakes were high in the country.

“We’ve got to move education quality even further up from where it is currently. We’ve got to present improved learning outcomes as demanded nationally for the improvement of education, innovation and skills development.”

Motshekga also talked about the need to create schools that work, from the smooth roll-out of the revised CAPS in the Senior Phase and Grade 12, to filling of vacant posts, among others.

“We need to prove that the over 114 million national workbooks we’ve produced are value for money and are indeed put to good use by teachers, learners and parents. Where we’re building schools, these should optimise school functionality.” – SAnews.gov.za 

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