Fight against the plan to “privatise” public schools in the Western Cape

SOURCE: BusinessTech & IOL

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Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has requested an urgent meeting with Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer to halt proposed changes to “privatise” public schools in the province.

The Provincial School Education Amendment Bill plans to introduce four major changes to the current Act including the introduction of a new schools evaluation authority, collaborative and donor schools as well as an intervention facility for pupils guilty of misconduct.

One of the biggest points of contention however, is the proposal to allow the sale at public schools, reports IOL.

Under the new rules, there will not be a general power for any school to allow the sale or consumption of alcohol at a school function. However, schools that wish to, will be permitted to apply in writing to the head of department, who can authorise a governing body or principal (in the case of a staff function) to permit the sale or consumption of alcohol.

In addition, the HOD, in considering such application, must have regard to Western Cape government policies regarding alcohol harms reduction.

The other changes proposed by the Bill are detailed below:

  • The establishment of an evaluation authority to be known as the Western Cape Schools Evaluation Authority (SEA). The SEA will independently evaluate schools and develop school evaluation reports which will trigger Departmental support and developmental actions. This information will be available publicly to parents and communities. The aim is that, through working with the Organisational Development Team, we will have finalised the key job descriptions, job gradings, standard operating procedures and performance review processes over the next two months.
  • The specific provision for collaboration schools and donor funded schools. Provision has been made specifically for collaboration schools and the declaration of existing schools as collaboration schools by the Provincial Minister. Further provisions have been made to allow for these contributors to be directly involved in matters pertaining to the governance of these schools and for the funding of posts for educators and non-educators appointed directly by the governing bodies of these schools.
  • The establishment of intervention facilities for learners who have been found guilty of serious misconduct, as an alternative to expulsion. Following expulsion learners are typically just accommodated in another school. Establishing an intervention facility as an alternative, will enable the learner to receive various therapeutic programmes and intervention strategies, specific to their situation, whilst still receiving an education.

Criticism

The bill has been slammed by teacher unions and opposition parties who claim that the amendments are an attempt by the Western Cape executive to run the education system like an “independent state”.

In an open-letter addressed to Schäfer, general secretary of Equal Education, Tshepo Motsepe, called the plans to introduce privately run public schools in the form of so-called collaboration and donor-funded systems “undemocratic”.

According to Motsepe, the new changes will mean that school operating partners and donors will be entitled to majority representation on school governing bodies (SGBs).

New public teacher appointments at these schools will involve the transfer of public money to operating partners, who will have full discretion over appointments.

The MEC will also be able to compel schools to become collaboration schools without the agreement of SGBs or parents.

“Equal Education is not dogmatically opposed to developing and testing new models of education. We welcome innovation and additional investment into our schools,” he said.

“However, it is not clear that the radical governance restructuring introduced by these amendments, is the key to achieve the education outcomes envisioned by the project.”

 

SOURCE: BusinessTech & IOL

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