Schools Functionality Monitoring Programmme Tackles Non-viable Schools In The Province
SCHOOLS FUNCTIONALITY MONITORING PROGRAMMME TACKLES NON-VIABLE SCHOOLS IN THE PROVINCE
From the 1st to the 3rd February 2023, all Members of the Legislature embarked on the Schools Functionality Monitoring Programme which targeted non-viable schools in KwaZulu-Natal with an aim of addressing the challenges faced by these schools particularly in rural areas.
The Schools Functionality Monitoring Programme forms part of the Legislature’s oversight responsibility which takes place at the beginning of every academic year and during the middle of the year to monitor the functioning of our public schools to ensure the delivery of quality basic education in KwaZulu-Natal.
The programme was introduced during the third term of the Legislature, aims to improve teaching and learning in our public schools by ensuring that schooling in all public schools takes place on the first day of each academic year. It involves various stakeholders such as School Governing Bodies, Teacher Unions, Councillors, Government Departments, Community Leaders and Religious Leaders.
Since its inception, this intervention programme has yielded remarkable outcomes in our education system in the province with sustained improvement in the delivery of quality basic education from the foundation phase right up to the high school phase. This has been demonstrated by sustained and remarkable improvement in our senior certificate examination results over the past decade. The 2022 KZN matric results are a case in point.
Various Legislature teams were deployed in all Districts of KwaZulu-Natal to monitor non-viable schools with challenges ranging from low enrolment numbers, severe staff shortages, poor physical school infrastructure, crime, poverty and other social challenges.
In Ugu District, the team started the schools functionality monitoring programme by visiting schools which were identified as non-viable in Umdoni Municipality on Wednesday the 1st February 2023. The visit started at Sithuthukile Secondary School in Ward 2 which was later followed by the visit to Ikhamana Primary School in the same Ward.
The challenges that were discovered in both schools in Umdoni Municipality are enormous. The physical conditions of the schools are an eyesore. Members urged the Department to come up with an immediate intervention to improve the physical condition of the schools particularly by providing suitable classrooms and resources which make teaching and learning to take place in a conducive environment. This also includes the provision of suitable ablution facilities for both teachers and learners which were found to be posing serious health hazards.
The team also discovered shocking low levels of pupil enrolment coupled with teacher provision norms in both these schools. It was shocking to discover that both schools have less than 100 pupils and two educators including principals who teach in these schools.
On the second day, the team visited Ray Nkonyeni Municipality in uMzumbe Circuit Management. The day started at Mashaba Primary School which is a non-viable school with the current enrolment of less than 100 pupils with only 3 educators including the principal. The physical condition of the school also needs an urgent intervention by the Department. Of particular concern was a lack of proper classrooms and ablution facilities as well as shoddy fencing of the school which must be attended to as a matter of urgency. Like all other non-viable schools, the school is severely under-staffed which makes effective teaching impossible.
The team then moved to Mntwana Ngamizizwe High School in the same Circuit Management. The school has proper and excellent physical infrastructure with modern teaching and learning tools such as overhead screens and projectors and a functional laboratory. However, the school has a challenge of fewer pupil enrolment which places it in the same category as a non-viable school.
As a result of this enrolment challenge, the school has been affected by the Post Provision Norm (PPN). Currently, there is a severe shortage of teachers to teach critical subjects such as maths, science and accounting. Even the school principal teaches subjects from grade 10 to 12 with more than 20 teaching periods per week. That compromises the principal’s administrative responsibilities.
On the last day of the programme, Ugu team visited Sibhaqa Primary School in Izingolweni which is another non-viable school. Like all other non-viable schools visited during the Schools Functionality progamme, the school suffers from the same challenges of poor enrolment and inadequate teaching staff.
A consolidated report including reports from other teams that visited other Districts is being compiled for submission to the Chairperson of Committees for processing and subsequently to the Office of the Speaker for tabling in the House.
The report will be tabled in the House for debate and adoption. After the adoption of the report, the Legislature, through its Portfolio Committee on Education, will play its oversight role on the implementation of the report by the Department of Education as adopted by the House.