Western Cape Education completes Sans Souci investigation

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has completed an extensive investigation following disruptions at Sans Souci Girls’ High School last year.

Debbie SchA�fer, Western Cape Education Minister, asked the department to conduct the investigation into aspects of a memorandum brought to the attention of the WCED. The disruptions followed disruptions at Pretoria Girls’ High School.

Four senior WCED officials, headed by Clifton Frolick, Chief Director: Districts, began the investigation on 1 September 2016.

They completed their report during the holidays after providing extensive opportunities for individuals to make representations. I have studied their findings and recommendations.

The investigation found that a number of discriminating practices gave rise to understandable unhappiness among learners and steps have already been taken to remedy these practices.

Further engagement will commence with the school as the new school year commences. These include:

Reviewing the code of conduct

Reviewing the hair policy (this has already been done)

Reviewing actions and decisions taken about inclusivity of all cultures and faiths

Assisting the Governing Body through training and support to fulfil its functions.

Having disciplinary engagements with individuals, where applicable

Any disciplinary engagement is a confidential matter between the HoD as employer and employee and will be treated in such a manner.

I have taken legal advice on the matter, and the conclusion is that, while a number of unacceptable practices were identified which require revision and correction, the evidence is unlikely to lead to dismissal in any one instance.

The climate and culture of the school, governed by the governing body and managed by the staff, need to reflect a South African school culture that is inclusive, orderly and disciplined. The WCED will work with the school to continue the revisions already started.

The Principal of the School, Charmaine Murray, retired at the end of December 2016 after 36 years of distinguished and loyal service with the WCED, the last 17 years as Principal of Sans Souci.

She has indicated that her decision, while of retirement age, is as a consequence of the trauma of the unfolding events and believes this to be in her and the school’s best interests.

It needs to be stated that the school’s performance has been uniformly good for which Mrs Murray as Principal has received numerous awards and accolades. I am very pleased to note that the school’s results in the 2016 NSC examination have once again been excellent.

The WCED has also learnt valuable lessons from this matter and will endeavour to pre-empt any such instances going forward.

I have already asked schools last year to review and amend their Codes of Conduct where necessary and we will engage with schools about this important aspect.

We welcome input from learners and aggrieved parties, but must stress that we cannot tolerate actions which make well-functioning Western Cape Schools ungovernable. Order and discipline are cornerstones of good education institutions and learners must respect discipline and rules. That is what education Is about.

The WCED will do all in its power to ensure that appropriate rules are applied with fairness and dignity and are within the ambit of the South African Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Source: Government of South Africa

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