The Vaal Reefs Technical High School has been experiencing various challenges which have negatively affected teaching and learning in the school. These challenges include: poor management and governance systems; poor academic performance; divisions amongst staff; dysfunctional school-based committees; lack of parental involvement; a culture of ill-discipline by teachers and learners; and late coming by learners due to hitchhiking and regular occurrence of bullying incidents. In addition, a learner committed suicide at Vaal Reefs Technical High School in 2022. The matric pass rate of the school also declined in the last few years; from 67.9% in 2019, to 50% in 2020 and slightly increasing again to 60% in 2021. The school’s learner enrolment had also declined from a steady 1,500 to a mere 692 learners in 2022. The Department was instructed by the Minister and the Deputy Minister to work with the North-West Education Department (NWED), to address school safety, management and governance challenges affecting the school.
The Department, through the School Safety, Education, Management and Governance Development (EMGD) and the Quality, Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) Directorates, worked with the NWED to convene a Bosberaad of the Vaal Reefs Technical High School, which was held from 14 –15 January 2023, at Kings Gate Hotel in Rustenburg. The Bosberaad was attended by educators, School Governing Bodies (SGBs) members and the supportive staff of the school. The Bosberaad also included DBE, provincial and district officials from the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District, as well as the South African Council for Educators.
Educators raised challenges such as favouritism by the Senior Management Team (SMT) in dealing with staff and a lack of transparency on the finances of the school. The educators also participated in various commissions and developed solutions which would assist their school function better.
QLTC Director, Mr Jabu Hlakula, who was also instrumental in the compilation of the challenges facing the school, provided a background on the importance of the Bosberaad. Mr Hlakula emphasised the fact that, because some of the issues impacting negatively on the school are governance-related and community based, the QLTC will continue to engage stakeholders and communities in ensuring that stability in the school is realised.
EMGD Director, Mr James Ndlebe, made a presentation on the functionality of the SMTs, SGBs and Learner Representative Councils. He emphasised that the school principal should take charge of the management of the school and manage the school through the various HoDs of the school. Mr Ndlebe stressed that HoDs are also compelled to monitor the work done by the teachers under them. As a result, the school principal should regularly hold them accountable, through holding accountability sessions every Monday of the week. In addition, the Director also urged the school principal and the SMT to always take decisions informed by evidence and be consistent in decision making to counter allegations of favouritism.
Chief Education Specialist, Mr Modiba Phosa from the MST, Curriculum Innovation and E-Learning Directorate, delivered a presentation on the Department’s Three Stream Model. He encouraged the school to apply to become a fully-fledged Technical High School from Grade 8 to produce learners equipped with technical skills, which will enable them to own small businesses and participate in the economy.
The North-West School Safety Coordinator presented the importance of implementing the National School Safety Framework as an inclusive approach towards violence prevention. The Coordinator encouraged the school to develop a code of conduct to address violent incidents accordingly.
Chief Director for MST & Curriculum Enhancement Programmes, Mr Seliki Tlhabane, concluded the Bosberaad with a passionate motivational session. He reminded the school of the importance of working together as a team towards educating the learner for greener pastures. He further highlighted the importance of the school having a clear vision, whereby all staff members should take ownership with eagerness and drive. The Department will continue to work with the NWED to monitor progress at the school.