Schools and Colleges Harrassed by Government

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South Africa’s 2,500 private schools have been increasingly harassed with time-wasting and expensive accreditation, teaching and facilities assessments from the Department of Education, which many schools neither need, nor want.

Double Standards
Umalusi is a task-force set up by the Department of Education to accredit and “quality assure” independent schools. To be accredited and to get a quality rating, schools must pass certain minimum requirements. (Provincial Departments of Education assess state schools using their own system of ratings.) “This requires that all your teachers are registered, that you have facilities that meet a certain standard, that you have audited financials”, says Jane Hofmeyr, head of ISASA, the Independent Schools Association of SA.

Umalusi
Umalusi was created in 2001 to develop a framework for the accreditation of independent schools and then to accredit these schools, private adult learning centres and private further education and training colleges. Schools are expected to apply for accreditation every seven years, submit to a performance evaluation twice in that time and update Umalusi annually on policy development.

Extra Price Tag
Previously Umalusi charged R7 000 to R9 000 for accreditation. Now Umalusi performs ‘quality assurance’ assessments at an extra cost which involves sending inspectors to schools to verify the paper-work presented by the school. For a school with 600 pupils between grades one and 12, the cost of the combined process will be around R75,000 over a 7 year period. Independent school associations are horrified at the jump in fees and the complexity of the process.

Unnecessary
Some teachers have pointed out that this seems totally unnecessary when most private schools, especially Christian schools, are superior in their quality of education compared to government schools.

Pay Again And Again
One teacher pointed out that private schools have always needed to pay for Quality Assurance, by their own associations (ACSI, ISASA and the CIE). Some have expressed their frustration that they already went through the process for their own association and now they are compelled to pay again to be accredited with the state Umalusi.

Extra Fund Raising Burden
Low income schools such as Christian Mission schools often need to do fund-raising drives such as bake sales to raise funds for needs such as building repairs. Now many have the extra burden of fund raising to meet Umalusi’s price tags.

Cut Throat Business
Liz van Tonder, principal at Orban School in Westdene, Johannesburg says higher-income parents are influenced by quality ratings: “The Umalusi accreditation is important from a marketing perspective. School is a cut throat business these days and if you are not accredited you are not good enough in parents’ minds.”

Government Job Creation?
Some teachers have wondered whether this is about government job-creation and revenue raising.

Beaurocracy Multiplied
Teachers have complained that they are drowning in paperwork and have had to spend weekends and holidays filling out reems of forms.

Tedious and Time-Wasting
In an article published on www.moneyweb.co.za Helenne Ulster, principal of United Church School in Yeoville said: “The policies that we have to develop and the admin involved are unnecessarily tedious - I’m talking about boxes of files. I have to employ someone just to handle the Umalusi stuff. I wouldn’t mind if all of this improved our standards, but it doesn’t.”

Unnecessary Admin
United Church School is 25 years old and has a 100% matric pass rate. “Keeping our school free of the drugs and booze that surround us is hard enough. Umalusi’s unnecessary admin adds to our challenges,” Ulster says.

Bible Colleges forced to Comply with Government Qualifications Criteria
The SA Qualifications Association (SAQA) is tasked with assessing schools and tertiary institutions’ qualification criteria e.g. grades, degrees and diplomas.

Financial Burdens Added
There are Bible Colleges that neither want, nor need, accreditation with SAQA, that have had to pay tens of thousands of Rands to SAQA to have their certificates and diplomas approved. Many Bible Colleges and Missions Colleges have been ordered to shut down for not complying with state instructions!

Freedom of Religion
The Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and freedom of association. These freedoms are violated by the intrusive, time-consuming and money-wasting demands of SAQA and Umalusi.

The Scriptures Must be the Foundation for Education
Professor Martin Luther warned: “I am much afraid that schools will prove to be wide gates to hell, unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not constantly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.”

Dr Peter Hammond

Africa Christian Action
PO Box 23632
Claremont 7735
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689 4481
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Web: www.christianaction.org.za
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