Eastern Cape Education Leadership Vacuum Infringes on the Rights of Learners

Since the beginning of our campaign this year to assess the state of the province, where one of our priority focus was on the state of education, we have outlined numerous instances of the Department of Education infringing on the right of the learners of the Eastern Cape to a decent quality of education.

The reports that the head of the Eastern Cape Education Department, Dr Naledi Mbude, has been suspended for over a year whilst enjoying the full benefits that come with her position, including a full annual salary of R1.8 million, vindicates our call for an urgent intervention in this department.

Whilst Dr. Mbude remains suspended, the department has been unable to retain an acting department head and has experienced a huge turnover of underlying acting senior managers. It is common cause that this department cannot perform optimally whilst experiencing a senior administrative leadership vacuum and lack of continuity of service in other senior management posts. We therefore advise that this interminable suspension and vacancy of critical posts be resolved as a matter of urgency in order to address this debilitating situation.

In a statement issued on the 13th of January 2023, ActionSA lambasted the Provincial Education Department for the sordid state of the schools in the Eastern Cape and the fact that the Eastern Cape Government once again forfeited millions of rands of grant funding meant for the construction & maintenance of schools. It is clear that the leadership vacuum and dereliction of duty is one of the primary causes of the parlous state of tuition and school infrastructure in our province and that this compounds the appalling political policy and leadership malaise that continues to hamstring the state of education in our country in general and Province in particular.

The repeated renewal of appointments of senior acting managers contravenes the department’s own policy on acting positions, which specifies that no person can act for longer than an uninterrupted six months in a senior management position. However, despite this, it is reported in an internal memorandum that all thirty one senior managers have been acting in their roles for a period longer than 12 months.

ActionSA demands urgent action and a long-term solution from Premier Oscar Mabuyane to end the musical chairs in this department. The wellbeing and the ability of our learners to contribute meaningfully to the economy of the province in the future, should be prioritised over party politics.

Issues of leadership and human resources should be dealt with expeditiously, but that is never case because of the political complications of the ANC practice of cadre deployment. The so-called fairness of disciplinary processes should not outweigh the rights of the learners, which require a speedy resolution of such matters.

The learners in our province deserve much much better. On the 26th of April 2023 we are marching to the office of the Premier to demand, among other equally-pressing matters, that the quality of education provided to learners in this Province be drastically improved so that the national norms and standards are at least met if not surpassed.