Worried principal makes desperate call for counsellors

Zandile Mbabela

EMOTIONAL and domestic problems, which often contribute to ill-discipline among pupils, have prompted a principal to make a desperate plea to education officials for the return of school counsellors.

The call was made during a visit by Education Department officials and politicians to assess school readiness at schools, including Motherwell’s DDT Jabavu.

There, principal Bongin- kosi Gotyana said having an on-site counsellor would go a long way in helping to improve results.

The team also visited Vulumzi High School in Motherwell’s NU5.

The schools have become known as underperformers, resulting in parents removing their children and opting for better schools.

The dwindling numbers, also fuelled by pupils dropping out, gave rise to speculation that the schools, which are on the same street, could be merged.

Gotyana asked MPLs to raise his plea for the return of school psychologists at a sitting of the provincial legislature.

“We don’t like that we underperform and are known as non-performers, but there is a lot that we are dealing with.

“We would love it if we could have a practitioner who talks to and counsels pupils because some of them have some serious issues.”

Gotyana said pupils were often so overburdened that they ended up dropping out of school.

“If we could just have a psychologist who will sit in a designated office with an open door, where pupils can go to in confidence, I feel some of our problems would be eradicated.”

The school recorded an abysmal matric pass rate of 11.1% in 2009, which has gradually improved to 32.6% in 2012 before dipping to 28.8% last year.

“We are doing the best we can with what we have,” Gotyana said.

Chief director Khayalethu Ngaso, who represented the provincial department, asked district officials in the Education Social Support Services section to follow up on the plea.

Eastern Cape education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said school psychologists had been included in the 7080 non-teaching posts declared by MEC Mandla Makupula last year.

“The posts [for school psychologists] have been declared as part of the post provisioning for this year, but the funds will only be released in the new financial year.”

Meanwhile, down the road at Vulumzi Senior Secondary, acting principal Ndimvumile Mankanku reiterated a request to department officials for pupil transport.

“The majority of our pupils are not from this area, which is a rather middle-class area, but from Wells Estate, where there isn’t a single high school.

“Others come from as far as NU11, NU12 and NU29. These pupils walk to school and arrive late as a result.”

Mankanku also told the team how teachers at the school were overburdened as a result of their staff complement. The school had teachers deemed in excess, but the reality was that they needed more.

“We have 20 teachers [on paper, but] have 14 warm bodies,” he said.

Four of the school’s teachers, including the principal, are on lengthy sick leave. Another – deemed in excess – was transferred to another school, while it is unclear what happened to the other teacher.

“According to the 2014 post establishment, we are meant to have 12 – one principal, two heads of department and nine post-level one teachers,” Mankanku said.

“The problem with that, however, is that while teacher numbers may match pupil numbers, curriculum needs are not considered.

“As a result, we have teachers doing multigrade teaching and some taking as many as nine classes a day.

“I’m not happy about this because it compromises quality teaching.”