Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on an Oversight Visit to the Ohlange Senior Secondary School, Inanda, Durban, dated 8 May 2012.
As part of the Portfolio Committee
on Basic Education programme for the term, the Portfolio Committee undertook oversight visits
Because of the rich history of Ohlange Senior Secondary and the fact that sections of the school was proclaimed a National Heritage Site, part of the focus of the engagement was to better understand the day-to-day operations and activities of the school, the impact of being declared a National Heritage Site and how best the Portfolio Committee could lend the necessary support to the school. The visit also allowed Members of the Committee the opportunity to receive a much broader orientation of the challenges faced.
It was important that schools such as Ohlange Senior Secondary, with its rich history and heritage status was revived, properly managed and not allowed to deteriorate in any way. For this reason, the Portfolio Committee had gathered together all the relevant stakeholders to the engagement to understand the challenges and seek ways of giving the necessary assistance and support. The engagements with the Ohlange Senior Secondary involved the National Department of Basic Education, the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Education Department, District Officials, the principal and his School Management Team (SMT), Organised Labour and the School Governing Body (SGB).
2. Composition of delegation
2.1 Parliamentary Delegation
The delegation from the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education comprised of Hon H H
Malgas MP (Chairperson), Ms N Gina MP (Whip), Mr Z S Makhubele MP, Mr D Bandi
(Content Advisor), Mr L Mahada (Parliamentary Researcher) and Mr L Brown (Committee
Mr T E Dladla Principal, Mr S C Mntambo Office of the District Manager, Dr G Msimango General Manager, Mr M E Nxumalo SGB Chairperson, Mr S E Khumalo SMT Member, Ms M S Ngidi SGB Member, Mr P R Khuzwayo SMT Member, , Mr M G N Chiu SMT Member, Mr K V Muthwa SGB Member, Mr N V Ngcobo Site Steward, Mr Z B Khoza SMT Member, Mr V B Dlamini SGB Member, Mrs M L Makhathini SMT Member, Mr M S Majola, Mr M S Mathonsi SADTU, Mr S A Nxumalo SADTU, Mr B Khuzwayo SADTU, Mr M Dlamini SADTU, Mr B Mthembu SADTU, Mr D Dickson Provincial Department of Education, Mr B Mpanza Provincial Department of Education and Mr T Nkomo National Department of Basic Education.
The school provided accommodation for 94 boarders 31 boys and 63 girls. Parents paid an amount for catering and security services. The boarding hostel had two house keeping supervisors and one Boarding Master. Staff at the school for 2011 could be categorised as follows:
· Educators - 34
· Administrative staff - 4
· General assistants - 20
· Security - 5
· House keepers - 3
In 2011 SANLAM donated R 55 000.00 for the renovation of the school sports field. In addition, the Natal Rugby Union and the Sharks sponsored the school with and amount of R 260 000.00 for the upgrading of the sports field. Infrastructure projects under way in conjunction with the Department and Mngeni Water included:
· The upgrade of the SMT offices, staffroom, foyer and reception area, the Deputy Principals office, classrooms and hostels (hostel fencing included)
· Renovation and upgrade of toilets
· Renovation and reinforced security for the Computer Centre
· Overhauled water and electricity supply
Apart from the above, the school had a proposal for sponsorship of the following:
· Funding for building 6 extra classrooms
· An additional HOD office and staffroom
· Fencing for the entire school
· A Life Sciences Laboratory
· Refurbishment of the sports field
· A school vehicle
· New computers for the second Computer laboratory and the upgrading of the present computers
The school also introduced morning and afternoon classes during the week for Grades 11 12. The principal mentioned that they had a very good working relationship with parents and the SGB. Because the school was not happy with the past Matric results, the school had adopted a turnaround strategy which also included Saturday classes. It was heartening that the school was moving in the right direction - for the past two years the school had managed to maintain its pass rate. Educators were very committed to the learners and the school and there were measures in place to deal with many of the challenges currently being faced. Due to the socio-economic environment the school was located in, they had difficulty with parents paying the school fees (+/- 60 percent non-payment). In the past, the school had a screening process/admission policy this was not the case currently and all learners were accommodated; with learner social background having an effect on the school in general.
One of the subjects offered at the school was Life Sciences/CAT - and a major challenge was the outcry by the school for new computers for their second Computer Centre and the upgrading of the existing computers. The outcry was for at least an extra 30 computers for the school. In the past, the school had received numerous donations of computers but due to a lack of reinforcement and security of the Computer Centres, many had been stolen. However, with the infrastructure projects run by the Department in conjunction with Mngeni Water, the Computer Centres were being renovated and the security reinforced.
The Chairperson of the SGB indicated that educators were demoralized due to the rampant corruption and nepotism at the school. Issues he brought to the attention of the Committee included:
· Inadequate administration
· Vandalism of the Hostel
· A portion of the school ground used for an FET college without consultation and permission of the school itself
· No report on the investigation into school funding irregularities the school having three bank accounts, monies having been donated to the school etc.
· Earlier recommendations to the Provincial office coming to no fruition
· Cottages that were fund-raised for educators being occupied by others
· A filthy, dilapidated school yet there were 21 non-teaching staff at the school
SADTU was of the view that because the challenges at the school had been engaged upon in so many ways and forums, it was important that an Adhoc Committee be established to focus on the challenges and produce the necessary remedial action to be taken. This Adhoc Committee needed to look at the short, medium and long term solutions to issues dealt with. The Committee, with the help of the National, Provincial and District Offices, the Portfolio Committee, SMT, SGB and Unions, would look at ways of soliciting funding for the various infrastructure projects.
The principal indicated that since taking office he had attended meetings that had no bearing on learning and teaching, but peripheral matters. He also indicated that the problems experienced with learners were manageable and was being addressed. Unfortunately the Provincial official was not able to answer to most of the issues raised as they fell outside of his directive. The issue regarding the withdrawal of the HOD position advertised was due to school enrollment figures of the previous year which warranted 5 HOD positions. However, with the current post provisioning and latest enrollment figures, the school was only allowed 4 HOD positions. It was the school prerogative which of the HOD positions would be filled. The District official indicated that they were aware of the issues raised and the various investigations that had been launched to date. Unfortunately many of the investigations were unresolved/not finalised. Where they were completed, reports had been forwarded to the line function management with findings and recommendations.
Ohlange Senior Secondary needed to do an urgent audit of all that they require and was short of. This needed to be communicated to the Provincial Office for processing. The Provincial Department needed to submit the reports on all investigations completed, unresolved and yet to be finalised (with timelines). It was important that the school received all the necessary support from the District as well as the Province. The Department needed to produce clear programmes of intervention in respect of infrastructure development the school was special and needed to be prioritised.
Report to be considered.