Privatisation of Schools in the Western Cape
Caution for disinformation: The article below is today the front page lead
in The Times, a Johannesburg daily newspaper. Meanwhile, SADTU has been
boycotting the extra so-called "systemic tests" imposed by the Western Cape
Education Department (WCED) since the beginning of the current term on 10
October. Yet the article does not mention this, or mention SADTU at all, and
The Times has not reported on the "systemic" as such at all.
This is clear disinformation, for the reason that the "systemic tests" are
the means of privatisation. They are there to establish the prerequisite
"metric" for the "deliverables" that would enable commodification of
education so that it can be contracted, bought and sold for money by
"private" capitalist companies.
By leaving out this active dispute led against the WCED by the ordinary
people of the Western Cape, and by the democratic teachers' union SADTU,
from their front-page account, The Times is trying to blind its readers to
the real and present matter. The headline it uses in the hard-copy version
is "What's best for kids?"
The Times, and other bourgeois South African newspapers, are trying to
"spin" the struggle for People's Education away from the people's interest,
and towards privatisation. It is disinformation.
Farren Collins, The Times, Johannesburg, 19 October 2016
If the Western Cape education department has its way, private donors will
have a majority say in how public schools are run, including over the
school's finances, governance and policy.
A draft bill by the provincial department suggests the establishment of
collaboration schools based on a public-private partnership where public
schools are partly funded by private donors and administered by school
governing bodies (SGBs) made up of parents, teachers and operating partners.
Teacher unions and civil society organisations say such schools would be
unconstitutional and an attempt to privatise public education. But education
experts laud the initiative, saying it will provide quality education for
According to the amended bill, SGBs at collaboration schools would give
majority voting rights to operating partners representing private donors,
allowing them to decide on school finances, governance and policy. Public
submissions closed last month.
Department spokesman Jessica Shelver said SGBs would still be accountable to
the province for the school's performance, even though teachers' contracts
would no longer be with the department, but with the SGB.
CEO of the South African Teachers Union Chris Klopper said the proposals
contravened the South African Schools Act and were not beneficial to
"These are serious deviations and won't convince us of the merit of
establishing collaboration schools," Klopper said.
"[Teachers] will not be allowed to be members of the government employees'
pension fund, nor would they qualify for the [state] medical aid fund."
Yesterday, Deputy Minister of Basic Education Enver Surty said he had not
looked at the draft legislation but that teacher unions were unhappy.
"You are basically taking away the management from the public and placing it
in the hands of the private sector ... There will be issues of language,
transformation, issues of access, issues of fees, all that comes into play,"
The Western Cape education department started the first of a five-year pilot
project of the model at two new and three existing no-fee schools in poor
communities in the province earlier this year.
Donors - which include the Millennium Trust, the Michael and Susan Dell
Foundation and First Rand Empowerment - committed R23.5-million in funding
during 2016 towards additional personnel, infrastructure improvement and
NGO Equal Education described the model as flawed and unsustainable, saying
it would lead to further inequality.
"To provide quality education is the responsibility of the state," said
Equal Education general secretary Tshepo Motsepe. "The result [of these
schools] could be a scenario in which private actors are benefiting from
norms and standards for infrastructure-compliant schools built by the state,
at an expense of tens of millions of rands."
Motsepe was concerned about donors possibly pulling out.
Shelver said donors contributed voluntarily and all had committed to the
pilot through a memorandum of agreement.
But the proposed benefits of collaboration schools were not the same for all
the schools that took part in the pilot.
The newly built state-of-the-art Happy Valley Primary School in Blue Downs
received fully equipped classes, which included interactive smart boards, a
nutrition programme to feed pupils and employed a full-time social worker.
With the support of its operating partner charity organisation Mellon
Educate, teachers received regular training and support. Principal Calvyn
Solomons, said the collaboration was a benefit to both the pupils and the
community, and offered a level of teaching and resources he had not seen in
more than 20 years.
The impact was not the same at Langa High School, where teachers initially
resisted because of fears the school would be privatised.
A refurbished library building with empty bookshelves was the only evidence
of infrastructure development, while matric pupils received additional
tutoring thanks to funding from donors.
Education researcher at Stellenbosch University Nic Spaull said the dire
state of public schools justified looking at other ways to provide quality
"The current system is so screwed that it justifies experimenting and trying
different models and seeing if it works or not," he said. "It would be ideal
if the public system could create schools that offer quality education to
everyone, but if part of the solution is collaboration schools then I am not
Jonathan Jansen called collaboration schools a "powerful model" that placed
the decision in the hands of schools to select the best teachers and focused
on scholastic performance.
The Western Cape education department plans to expand the pilot with
R38-million secured from donors for 2017.
- Additional reporting Shenaaz Jamal
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