Mbeki vows to sack bad heads

21st January 2000 at 00:00

SOUTH AFRICA's new president has vowed to clamp down on schools that perform poorly. Thabo Mbeki said the government would begin sacking below-par headteachers, and sending "guerrilla units" to conduct spot checks on schools.

The government is getting tough with ill-disciplined schools following yet another year when more than 50 per cent of pupils failed school-leaving exams.

Speaking during the ruling African National Congress's 88th birthday celebrations, Mr Mbeki said that heads who repeatedly produce bad results should be sacked - just as if they were managing directors of companies which made a loss.

The government intends to create "guerrilla units" made up of provincial education officials who will arrive at schools unannounced to see what staff and pupils are doing. "I am told of instances where, as schools open in the morning, teachers and pupils walk to the nearest shebeen and sit drining," he said.

Many schools in poor areas are plagued by lack of discipline and violence. Lessons are offered only occasionally. Until now, however, their heads have rarely been fired.

There are many examples of excellent schools in poor areas. But, until recently, poor performance in disadvantaged schools was blamed on lack of resources, apartheid curricula and teacher training, and disruption through protest. These schools tended to be sites of the anti-apartheid struggle when the slogan of a generation of black pupils was "liberation before education".

Mr Mbeki conceded that continued lack of basic infrastructure and resources was a problem. But good teaching was possible in difficult circumstances, he said.

In a highly-publicised move this week, the education minister Kader Asmal and provincial education ministers have been driving around ensuring schools are up and running after the holidays.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today