A consultative committee is set to be formed in an attempt to finally deal with racist incidents at Gauteng schools.
This was announced by education MEC Panyaza Lesufi during an independent schools consultative summit at Curro Waterfall in Midrand today.
His department and associations of independent schools would sign a charter designed to compel schools to adhere to it when drafting their polices and code of conduct.
Ten associations representing affiliated private schools in Gauteng were among those scheduled to sign the charter.
They are the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (Isasa), Accelerate Christian Education, the Association of Christian Schools International, the Gauteng Catholic Schools Board, the Association of Muslim Schools, the Federation of Waldorf Schools in Southern African, the South African Board of Jewish Education, the Settlement Forum Association of Black Independent Schools, the South African Montessori Association and the Alliance of Black Independent Schools.
Lesufi said independent and private schools needed to work together with his department to come up with a social cohesion plan.
The plan will detail how schools should deal with racism incidents, type of hair and haircut for pupils, the recruitment of teachers and curriculum delivery “so that I don’t have to go to every school”, Lesufi said at a media briefing.
Lesufi has visited several schools following reports of racism and allegations of sexual misconduct against teachers this year.
He said associations would also have to share their database of teachers dismissed for sexual misconduct with the department.
The department would also make its database available to associations representing private schools, he said.
Lesufi said his department was also in a process of developing a database on teachers blacklisted for sexual offences. The database was scheduled to be made public next year.
He urged private schools not to expel pupils because of unpaid fees but rather deal with their parents.
He said private schools and some public schools also needed to celebrate public holidays as part of national cohesion “not only observe Valentine’s Day”.
Lesufi said private schools would also have to realise that teacher unions were involved in education.
“This is an elephant in the room,” he said, while address delegates earlier in the day.
He said public schools lose well-trained teachers to private schools because they offered better salaries.
“We are not a training ground for rich people. That is polarising public education. Teacher unions are coming to the private education sector. We must prepare them to be aware,” Lesufi told reporters.
Isasa policy and government relations director Confidence Dikgole, who is also the national deputy chairperson of the National Association of Independent Schools, said there were challenges experienced by their affiliated members.
She said these included department officials demanding that their members follow the sequence of the teaching curriculum despite this not being legislated.
Dikgole said there were also delays in payment of subsidies to their affiliates by certain provincial education departments.
Subsidies were allocated per pupil and, depending on how much budget was set aside by a province, were paid later than scheduled deadlines, a situation which negatively affected private schools.
She said their affiliates were allowed to expel a pupil over unpaid fees, but that this was not encouraged.
“We say to our member schools that don’t expel a child until you have given a notice. This could
be a term or three months. We need to consider first what is in the best interest of a child,” she said.