Gauteng school principals 'need training'

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi (left). (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi (left). (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The uncovering of corruption at a Johannesburg South school is a “golden opportunity” to establish better financial practice at all schools in the province, not just former Model C ones.

“Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi will do well in ensuring that the management systems and auditing systems that are there are being properly utilised and are fully functional,” Basil Manuel, president of the national professional teachers’ organisation of South Africa told the  Mail & Guardian on Tuesday.

“Regulations and policies designed to minimise these corrupt practices must be monitored and their lack of use challenged before a total breakdown occurs.”

He said Lesufi should also put pressure on his officials about the training of principals. 

“Principals are not appointed because they have financial skills. The skill set focusses more on academics as it should but these principals need training.”

He said singling out one group of schools for assessment was not the answer either.

At a press briefing on Monday about the shock findings of corruption by leadership at ex-Model C Glenvista High School, Lesufi told reporters that he was considering assessing all ex-Model C schools for financial irregularities.

School sample
“I’ve instructed the head of department to sample some of our schools. We might have to have a broader-based investigation in all our former Model C schools to check whether this is not a trend,” Eyewitness News reported him as saying.

A forensic report compiled by auditing firm KPMG revealed that Glenvista’s former principal and some members of the former school governing body (SGB) had been involved in various cases of financial mismanagement including the operating of more than one bank account without approval from the department; and payments made for levies of an individual’s holiday home, installation of a carport and hunting fees using the school’s staff loan account.

Lesufi was pursuing criminal charges against some members of the former SGB as well as the former principal, who left the school in 2013.

This is the same school which in 2013 suspended a grade eight pupil for attacking a teacher with a broom and a chair.
The attack was caught on video which soon went viral.

Manuel said ex-Model C schools are no different to other public schools in that they are subject to the same legislation and policies. He said they had “much more money, bigger budgets, bigger projects, are employers … and this creates more areas and space for untoward things to happen” but singling out a particular group for assessments “creates the impression by innuendo that all these schools are corrupt”.

“An impression has been created by some that these principals are chief executive officers of companies. They are not. The one or two that act in this way have tainted all and now all are bearing the brunt of this unfortunate situation.”

SGB chairperson Prince Maluleke told the M&G that the irregularities had been ironed out and new practices put in place.

“The former SGB took remedial action and put in place new policies,” he said.

These included getting permission from the department to have certain bank accounts; any procurement of services must be preempted by three quotations; and the contract with a debt-collecting company owned by a former SGB member was cancelled.

There was also a new finance policy.

Victoria John

Victoria John

Victoria studied journalism, specialising in photojournalism, at Rhodes University from 2004 to 2007. After traveling around the US and a brief stint in the UK she did a year's internship at The Independent on Saturday in Durban. She then worked as a reporter for the South African Press Association for a year before joining the Mail & Guardian as an education reporter in August 2011. Read more from Victoria John

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