Zuma to meet principals on Friday

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pretoria - The meeting between hundreds of school principals and President Jacob Zuma this week will be the first step in mobilising the nation to prioritise education and make it everybody's business. 

""The interaction will be more of a mobilisation. We will be making a powerful statement - to say, lets all put our focus in education," Minister for Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, told BuaNews ahead of the big event.

President Zuma will become the first South African President to directly interact with principals on Friday at Durban's International Convention Centre.

At total of 1500 principals from across South Africa, selected by provincial education departments, will have a chance to interact with the President and get a clear directive of what they should be doing. 

Motshekga said the new administration was intent on education "becoming everybody's business," and it would continue to be a key priority for government. 

"The meeting will put education to the position that we want ... we want everybody from President to cleaner to focus on education as a priority," she said.

She said the President was likely to highlight the key importance of principals in the education system. 

"If you have good principals, you have half your problems solved. Good schools have got good principals. The education system rests squarely on the shoulders of principals." 

The President is also expected to reiterate the department's "non-negotiables" which he outlined in his State of Nation Address, earlier this year.

These include teachers being "in school, in class, on time teaching with no neglect of duty and abuse of pupils".

The implementation of the non-negotiables would in fact "ensure the principals will understand that this is a national directive and it is what the nation aspires for in the education system." 

Although there are about 27 400 school principals in the country, there will be a few principals from each province at the meeting.

"The initial idea was to invite all the principals but it was logistically untenable." 

About 60 percent of principals attending will be from performing schools, while 40 percent will be from underperforming schools. They were selected from across the grades in both high schools and primary schools and come from all corners of the country. 

Provincial MECs will after Friday's interaction embark on roadshows to report back to those who could not attend the meeting.

Apart from the President outlining his vision for the sector, the interaction will also be used to listen to the concerns of principals. 
The minister added that she had seen "a blossoming sense of hope" in the education sector, especially among teachers, and she hoped this meeting would further this enthusiasm.