The school principals in the Eastern Cape’s Matatiele District of Education are crying foul over the Department of Basic Education’s “progression policy” that they say forces them to “promote” learners who have repeatedly failed a certain grade, to the next, saying it impacts negatively on their matric results.
This is in reference to the National policy pertaining to the programme and promotion requirements of the National Curriculum Statement, which defines “progression” as the “advancement of a learner from one grade to the next in spite of the leaner not having complied with all the promotion requirements”. It continues to say this is done “to prevent a learner from being retained in the same phase for a period exceeding four years”.
The headmasters said not only does this practice impact negatively on matric pass rates and overall percentage of schools performance, but also results in high levels of ill-discipline as most progressed learners are over-age.
A delegation of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Members of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, and local councillors heard about this while conducting oversights at schools in the Alfred Nzo District Municipality, as part of a build-up to the Taking Parliament to the People Programme, to be held in November.
At Nyaniso Senior Secondary School, one of the secondary schools that were visited by the delegation, the delegation heard that the progression of learners who have failed made teachers feel ineffective. “Progressed leaners have a negative attitude, they do not want to work, they get 30% yet we are expected to produce a bachelor’s pass,” said the school principal Mr BV Dzingwa.
Mr Dzingwa’s sentiments were shared by his counterparts from Maluti and King Edward Secondary Schools who also complained about the negative impact of matric pass as a result of progressed learners who continued to fail.
Mr Gordon Harrison, the principal of King Edward High School, said the policy of progression was “killing the morale of school principals”. He also complained about the rationalisation of schools and redeployment policies.
“Education is very challenging today, it is frustrating and challenging to run an institution of this nature. This week I wanted to resign because of the policies from the department that are ruining education,” he said.
He raised his concern about the department’s plans to split his school into two, creating a separate primary and high schools. “It breaks my heart that the department wants to split the school into two, it is disruptive and destroying something that is functioning well. It is irrational and wrong to take schools that are functioning optimally and try rationalisation, it will increase costs and compromise the quality of education,” he said.
Mr Harrison proposed for a review of the “one-size-fits-all” policy approach. “What is good for one school might not be good for the next, please leave us alone and let us do what we know best and spend the money on impoverished schools, people are desperate for quality education,” he said.
Delegation Leader Mr Phello Parkies, a Member of the NCOP, said it was part of the Members of Parliament’s responsibility to monitor the impact of policies and laws that have been adopted by Parliament.
“I am a fervent exponent of the policy that says if a policy that we adopt does not assist our people, then it needs to be changed,” he said.
NCOP Chairperson, Ms Thandi Modise, said it was unfortunate that some policies that were intended to do good end up not achieving that. “It seems like new policies were brought without discussing them with the people who must implement them, we also need to get feedback from the people who have to implement them. Even when people say things that we don’t like, if they have a point we have to acknowledge and do something about it,” she said.
Ms Modise was more worried about the redeployment of good educators to non-teaching posts, which she said was a loss to the education of children. “My problem is not about principals resigning but about good principals promoted into posts that take them away from teaching, best teachers promoted into non-teaching posts,” she said.
Source: Parliament of South Africa.