Proposed changes to repair the ‘dysfunctional’ schools of South Africa

The Equal Education Law Center (EELC) states that school governing bodies should have the power to hold accountable to underperforming schools.

South African schools, especially in rural areas, are hidden in dysfunction with little to no resource allocation and are poorly supported to give children opportunities to excel academically, the EELC said.

Earlier this year, Minister of Primary Education Angie Motshekga announced the matriculation passage for 2021 to be 76.4%; however, it is speculated to be much lower because the official results do not consider the high waste percentage.

The EELC reported that in present-day South Africa approximately 80% of high schools are ‘dysfunctional’‘. These schools mainly serve black and colored students, it said.

To address dysfunction in schools, the group advised that parents and school governing bodies be given the power to account for underperforming schools.

The EELC said:

  • The Department of Primary Education must announce in an annual report in accordance with Article 8 of the National Education Policy Act the steps it has taken to support underperforming schools.
  • Governing bodies need to be trained and capacitated to provide effective school oversight.
  • Regulations are being adapted to enable supervision at the local level, such as the South African Schools Act, and the National Education Policy Act only provides mechanisms for supervision at the ministerial level.
  • Otherwise, information is provided to account to the school in the form of comprehensive reports detailing the functioning of the school;
  • Parents should have access to information on enrollment numbers and teacher turnover, both in absolute terms and in comparison with other schools in the neighborhood.
  • Legislation should set minimum requirements for school reports to parents and ensure that they are set out in recommended norms and standards.

In order to achieve a more competent education system, the EELC called for the broadening and clarification of legislation in the form of new sections of the Schools Act (58B and 16A) as well as the establishment of norms and standards detailing the identification of schools. who need support and appropriate remedial interventions.

In addressing the functionality of a school, the EELC stated that it is necessary to take into account more than just the academic performance of a school.

There is too much reliance on academic performance as a means of determining a school’s fitness, other issues such as lack of teaching materials, lack of learning transport, socio-economic difficulties for pupils and parents, such as fetal sidelining alcohol spectrum disorder, it said. .

More power for HODs

The EELC argues that the current regulatory framework for underperforming schools fails to give department heads (HOD) enough power to make necessary changes.

Current legislation requires an HOD to identify underperforming schools and take all reasonable steps to help with the problem.

Annual reports on academic performance and the use of resources at the school are also legally required to be drawn up by the school principal and submitted to the HOD, the EELC added.

Schools can further produce internal School Improvement Plans (SIPs) that the HODs are then required to review and make recommendations.

According to the EELC, the regulatory framework for schools does not recognize that the principal and the leadership team are often part of the problem.

The EELC added that provincial education departments have found that in practice HOD support in developing a SIP is often very limited.

The Law Center states that the HOD should be more closely involved from the outset in developing plans to improve or analyze the performance of schools.

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Proposed changes to repair the ‘dysfunctional’ schools of South Africa

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