2 March 2022
SADTU in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) notes the announcement of the appointment of Mr GN Ngcobo as the KZN Education Head of Department. SADTU equally congratulates Mr Ngcobo and wishes him well in his new responsibilities. The Union hopes that Mr Ngcobo does have an understanding of the Department, its strategic goals, vision, and mission part of which "is to provide equitable access to quality education for the people of KwaZulu-Natal" (KZN DOE). It is also our belief that Mr Ngcobo knows that part of the KZN DOE's strategic goal is to "broaden access to education and provide resources; improve schools' functionality and educational outcomes at all levels; develop human resource and organisational capacity and enhance skills; develop schools into centres of community focus, care and support; ensure good corporate governance, management and an efficient administration; and promote national identity and social cohesion" (KZN DOE).
His appointment means from, 1 March 2022, he must work to help the Department realise these goals.
SADTU KZN has taken time to issue this statement as we were still reminding ourselves of who Mr Ngcobo is and whether he is equal to the task. His personal experience and achievements as a teacher and manager in the education sector convince us that education loving people can expect for the better. Briefly, Mr Ngcobo grew within the ranks of the Department as a teacher at Mqhawe High School in Pinetown District. During this period, he academically developed himself through the State University of New York where he graduated with a Master's Degree. It was after this achievement that he moved to Ntuzuma College of Education where he served as a lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Senior Departmental Head. Mr Ngcobo was later appointed as a Deputy Director for Labour Relations, and he gets this new appointment as an HOD when he is holding a Chief Director position for Human Resource Management (HRM) since 2005. Mr Ngcobo became the first Chief Director appointed under the Government of the African National Congress (ANC) and he played a critical role in managing the transition processes of the time, driving the transformation agenda of the then new political dispensation.
With all this experience, SADTU KZN believes that Mr Ngcobo is equal to the task. However, he comes in at a time when the struggling economy of the country is adversely impacting on the education budget thus imposing stringent austerity measures which include budget cuts, moratoriums in filling of vacancies and silent retrenchments of support staff posts including school security posts. All these put a strain on education delivery in the province resulting in overworked workers who are made to act without any compensation against what the law and policies provide.
It is therefore fair for the South African Democratic Teachers' Union to expect of him to focus more on ensuring that the limited budget of the department is fairly distributed across all programmes and prioritise everything that has to do with classroom activities. This can be achieved through ensuring that all vacant posts are filled timeously. These include school and office-based posts. The new HOD must ensure that a strategy is developed to ensure that the power of School Governing Bodies is restored on the role they must play in the appointment of teachers as this will short-circuit the process of appointment of teachers. Also, the government has prioritised Early Childhood Development and it is sad that as he ascends to this position, he is being welcomed by Grade R practitioners, majority of them being qualified teachers, earning stipends. He must work to ensure that within 90 days of his appointment all of them get absorbed in the system. These workers have no benefits and many of them have been in the employ of his department for more than a decade. The new HOD must use his experience and skills to stabilise the system as most districts are working on a skeleton structure.
In conclusion, SADTU welcomes and congratulates the new HOD, and we hope he will prioritise labour peace so that teachers, education workers and educationists can focus on ensuring quality education delivery otherwise SADTU is always ready to fight for the welfare of her members. The HOD is therefore warned to invest on labour consultation because there can be nothing about us without us otherwise, he will be forced to consult us in platforms which the Labour Relations Act provides as alternatives. He is not our friend but the representative of the employer and shall be treated as such.
Issued by the Secretariat