Teacher promotion quotas resisted
Gauteng wants ‘under-represented’ candidates favoured
● School governing body associations have slammed the Gauteng education department’s decision to promote more females as principals and more males as departmental heads.
Recent recruitment and selection guidelines aimed at assisting governing bodies to select candidates for promotion reminds them of the department’s employment equity targets and the decision taken by its top management “to be biased to underrepresented groups”. Such groups include women applying for posts as principal, African and Indian males applying for deputy principal posts and males of all races vying for posts of departmental head.
The guidelines, which were approved on March 18, will be discussed by officials with governing bodies during training sessions this month. The document states: “It is imperative for the panel to give a higher weighting to under-represented groups, including females applying for principal posts.”
It stated that the head of department or district director “will check the minutes of the shortlisting meeting to satisfy himself whether underrepresented groups were given preference ie if the females in principal posts were allocated high weighting.”
A departmental circular, dated October 2020, lists the numerical targets that the department should strive to achieve for principal, deputy principal, departmental head and teacher posts by the end of March 2023.
Figures up to the end of 2019 show 63.2% of principal posts were filled by males and 36.8% by females, reflecting “a gender imbalance favouring male employees”.
Targets the department is striving to achieve by March 2023 include:
● Female principals: from 736 to 816;
● African male deputy principals: from 935 to 1,044;
● Indian male deputy principals: from 50 to 52;
● African male departmental heads: from 2,171 to 2,771;
● Coloured male departmental heads: from 100 to 106;
● Indian male departmental heads: from 69 to 101; and
● White male departmental heads: from 493 to 549.
The circular states that there was an “under-representation” of male teachers among all race groups — for example, there were only 9,157 African male teachers compared to 26,593 African female teachers.
According to the circular, the appointments should “fast-track the recruitment of under-represented occupational levels and groups. School governing bodies must familiarise themselves with employment equity policy and the [department’s] numerical targets and strive ... to achieve its targets.”
Governing bodies said there was an “under-representation” of males in the teaching profession nationally.
Belinda Petersen, principal of Rustenburg Girls’ Junior School in Cape Town, said there was a move to bring in more male teachers. Only two of the 49 teachers at the school are male, with one more joining next month.
“Male teachers at primary schools are a lot more difficult to come by and when we do get males applying, they are often not qualified to teach primary school learners,” said Petersen.
Matakanye Matakanya, general secretary of the National Association of School Governing Bodies, said the quality of principal appointments will be compromised if governing bodies favour only females. He said parents at Sewelabatho Commercial High School in Waterberg, Limpopo, met on Friday and demanded the removal of the recently appointed female principal.
“She was ranked third by the interviewing panel. The first and second candidates, both males, received scores of 89 and 69 while she was given a score of 63 but was appointed.”
Matakanya said it would be disastrous if governing bodies were going to rigidly comply with the department’s targets without looking at the competency of candidates.
Anthea Cereseto, CEO of the Governing Body Foundation, said that focusing solely on the under-represented groups during appointments “could be problematic where governing bodies are elected or even manipulated with particular agendas in mind”.
“Bias towards the under-represented group is taken into account when the scores of two candidates are almost the same.”
But she said that equity was just one of the considerations, along with the inherent ability to do the job. “The governing body must choose quality teachers and not base their choice on party political branch membership or on teacher union affiliation.”
Jaco Deacon, deputy CEO of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools, said: “The bottom line is that the specific operational requirements of the school and its best interests should be the most important requirements.”
The department said it needed more time “to provide a comprehensive response as the information requested is not readily available”.