EASTERN Cape school principals could soon be brought to book – and even face the axe – for poor pass rates if a Private Member’s Bill is passed by the Legislature in Bhisho.

If Democratic Alliance education spokesperson Edmund van Vuuren gets his way, principals will be forced to account for any dip in pass rate figures – including those of previous years.

The DA motion will assess the performance of a school based on an agreement between the principal and the provincial Education Department.

The principals will then be measured against a school’s best performance in recent years.

Yesterday, Van Vuuren said the draft Bill would force principals to focus their attention on what teachers are doing in the classroom.

“At the moment we do not know what is going on in the classrooms. We have to wait for the results. With this Bill in place we can monitor them,” he said.

Teachers are already given performance assessments through the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS). Principals do form part of this assessment, but Van Vuuren said only as “individuals”.

“This is where the problem lies,” he said, adding that those in charge of a school should be brought to book for the “entire school’s performance” and “not just their own”.

“There are no controls in place to watch over the principals, and with the IQMS they just pass the buck onto teachers and even the parents,” he said.

But unions have come out against Van Vuuren’s motion, which is set to be put forward at the first sitting of the Legislature next month.

South African Democratic Teachers’ Union general-secretary Fezeka Loliwe said yesterday the Bill “would be out of order”.

She said there were too many factors to consider in a school’s pass rate to solely lay the blame at the principal’s “doorstep”.

“It is barking up the wrong tree; there are already clear guidelines in place and they must just be enforced,” she said.

South African Onderwysersunie chairperson Pierre Hauman said the proposed Bill took accountability too far.

“Obviously the principals have to take some blame … but bringing it into legislation will be taking it to the extreme,” he said.

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa CEO Peter Duminy said:

“There are limits to what principals can do; the idea is laudable but it is not so simplistic.”

Provincial Education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said it would be “improper” to comment. — michaelk@dispatch.co.za

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