Some parents in Mochudi – the capital of Kgatleng District - have taken the war directly to the education ministry succeeding in one instance to force the removal of a junior secondary school head teacher for non-performance.
The former head teacher at Sedibelo Junior Secondary (name withheld) who is in D- scale now lies idle at the Regional Education office where she is often given clerical jobs whilst still waiting for her charges. In 2017, the district had a pass rate of 67 percent at PLSE, 31 percent at junior certificate and 21 percent at senior secondary.
Sedibelo came last out of the 10 junior schools in the region. The best regional position the school ever got was position two at 44 percent in 2014. Otherwise they got position seven in 2013 and 16 at a pass rate of 28.3 and 20.2 percent respectively.Her orchestrated removal from office is not only a warning signal that many parents in the district or even the country may follow, but equally put at risk stakeholders as on that day parents just instructed the accounting officer to take with him the school head and replace her or else they will not let him out of the meeting.
BG News team visited the school this week and found the situation calm under the new head, Tshetsana Mmesetse. Speaking to BG News, Regional Education Officer, Kereng Koko said the results in the schools are really depressing, to the extent that at times one tends to speak with a bit of harsh language because when you get into a school, the expectation is that, you will find the basics of teaching and learning taking place.
Why so? “Because in our senior schools we have seven people who are not teaching, being head, deputy and five departmental heads. In an 18 stream school or 24 stream school, you will have about three departmental heads these people are not teaching, they are supposed to be looking after teaching and learning.
“When school heads are asked how things are because the results are poor, they claim everything is fine. But, the results of the past four to five years shows there is a drop every year. When you get to the class and scheme books where the teacher makes the initial planning, you will realise that not they have schemed or prepared.”
She said, when you take the lesson plan, you will realise that there is no lesson plan. “When you take students books, which is something we have done in Kgatleng, then you will find that the last assignment or work that was done was in February, and the students are sitting for exams the next day. When you look at some of these things, then you will end up almost losing because you take that with the number of people who are supposed to be checking, Some of these things which are happening are not supposed to be happening”.
According to her, parents are now up in arms, because they also check their children’s work and they find all these things and they come back to us. “Typical example is here in Kgatleng, last year subsequent to my arrival in the district, I checked all my schools and found that there are schools which are not performing amongst them Sedibelo Junior Secondary School, I wrote to the respective head teachers asking them what they are doing about the results. “Instead of telling me what they are doing they told me about the resources.
You know teaching is not about the resources, teaching needs school heads and a focused head needs teachers who are prepared to teach any students. The resources are just enablers to make sure that teaching and learning is adequately done”.
Koko said after writing letters to the heads she was ridiculed. At the beginning of the year, one of those schools that she wrote to - Sedibelo - based in Mochudi came last in the district. The parents decided to take it upon themselves; they called for a meeting saying that we are going to talk about the results.
“We went into the school thinking so. At that meeting I was told in no uncertain terms, that I should leave with the school head because they have realised she is unable to instruct teaching and learning and as such she has abdicated her role as an instructional leader. I speak she is here with me in the region without a post waiting for her charge for non-performance”.
In another related incident, parents at Bakgatle Junior Secondary School came to her office complaining that there is no instructional leadership taking place in that school. “I talked to the leadership of the school and there was no improvement. I subsequently appointed three people to investigate.
“The committee’s findings were that prior to their visit to the school, the School head played his part of checking if teaching and learning is taking place in their school. The parents have given me up to the end of the year to ensure that the results have improved”.
Koko said the challenges are poor supervision, teachers do not want to scheme, do lessons plans, monitor those lesson plans, do not give the students practice, don’t do marking and they do not do the corrections. “The new PS, Dr Collie Monkge came up with the Turnaround Strategy.
We brought them for a conference, talked about clinical supervision which is all about making sure all is done accordingly including testing, when the students fail you make them do the corrections and for teachers to do that they need heads to check instead of just trusting if such basic things are not done. “I personally do visit schools to check and verify.
I have checked and verified many times I came disappointed and I have been forced to put up my voice when talking to school teachers, because if we have agreed and we know and have been taught, and we are professionals then we must go and check,” she said. Bakgatla Regent, Kgosi Bana Sekai confirmed that he has heard of unpleasing reports coming from Molefi Secondary School and will soon be meeting with the regional education officer this week to get a brief and map a way forward.