South Africa: Change Impossibilities Into Possibilities – NCOP MPs Tell Principals

If the curriculum is not entirely covered at schools there can be no good reason to hope for better matirc results at the end of the year in the Mdantsane District of Education, Members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) told the Mdantsane District of Education's Acting District Director, Mr Sihle Mnguni, and other senior officials of the Department of Basic Education at WB Rubusana's offices of Basic Education yesterday.

Furthermore, according to the NCOP Members of Parliament (MPs), part of the turnaround strategy of the Eastern Cape Department of Basic Education was to ensure that the schools regularly received all the required support that include that the curriculum is entirely covered at the right time before children write the final matric examinations.

"When in your presentation Acting Director you report that the unavailability of transport rendered the district unable to reach all the schools that needed its support, that diminishes the commitment you made at the beginning of the year," said Ms Lungelwa Zwane, who is also the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Education and Recreation.

Responding to the question on the shortage of vehicles to reach all the schools, Mr Mnguni said that the shortage of transport should not be taken for granted that nothing happened on the assistance for the completion of the curriculum. "As our Plan B we used other means that did not rely on transport, we used other strategic means such as inviting Circuit Managers to WB Rubusana College to hear from them about progress on the coverage of the curriculum. Also there is a regular meeting of all the principals," he said.

He told the NCOP MPs that despite all odds, the district performed according to what it committed itself to do to support the schools.

Asked about the delivery of the Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) to the schools within the prescribed times, Mr Mnguni admitted that that is not going to happen in his district. Although Mr Mnguni highlighted a string of challenges that he said have made it impossible for his district to keep the timelines that are determined by the National Department of Basic Education for delivery of the LTSM, the MPs told him that was unacceptable.

The leader of the group of MPs that demanded accountability from the district's management, Mr Jonas Parkies, expressed the unhappiness of the NCOP about the delayed delivery of the LTSM.

There were a number of high schools, a mixture of good- and poor-performing schools that the MPs visited yesterday. Those schools included Ulwazi and Wongalethu High Schools. Ulwazi High School got 100% pass in 2015 and Wongalethu, a school that according to members of its school governing body used to be among the best in the East London region in the old dispensation, is one of the worst performing schools now and obtains between 30% and 35% matric results in the past three years.

The MPs spent a significant part of their yesterday's time advising the schools's management teams and governing bodies on applying realistic and workable strategies to turn the impossibilities into possibilities. "If Wongalethu was a best school at some stage in history, there is nothing stopping you principal and your team to take the school back to its former glory. Simply pick up what has been abandoned as certainly things that made the school to be the best in the past have been abandoned."

The MPs told the principal and the governing body that turning of the school around is not going to happen miraculously. "You need to have a workable turnaround strategy."

The MPs praised the principal of Ulwazi High School that achieved a 100% pass matric results in 2015. The MPs encouraged the principal and the school's governing body to keep the extraordinary work they are doing to ensure that the children pass matric and obtain a good quality pass. "Please share your strategies with the neighbouring schools that are battling to achieve what you have been consistently achieving," said Mr Parkies.

The NCOP is currently in the Eastern Cape Province on the week-long Taking Parliament to the People programme and is being hosted by the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality.

Source: Parliament of South Africa.

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