Basic Education sets record straight on Commission for Gender Equality

Basic Education Department sets the record straight regarding the Director-General’s appearance at the Commission for Gender Equality

The Department of Basic Education wishes to correct the wrong impression created by media reports that the Director-General appeared before the Commission for Gender Equality without preparation on Tuesday, 1 October 2019.

We further reject the notion that the Director-General Mr Mathanzima Mweli appeared before the Commission without any report or presentation. The Director-General prepared for the Commission in accordance with the letter and notice to appear received from the Commission. The impression created could not be further from the truth as the Commission was provided with more than just what they had expected. DBE supplied additional information, reports and documents on the spot upon request by Commissioners.

The whole morning focused on the misunderstanding of current powers of what DBE is responsible for vis-a-vis provinces as covered in schedule 4 and section 40(1) of the constitution of the Republic of South Africa and Sections 8, 3 and 4 of the National Education Policy Act. Mr Mweli spent considerable time to assist the Commission with this which they highly appreciated.

The letter from the Commission and the notice had specific cases affecting GP, KZN, NW, NC and nothing on DBE. In fact the letter indicated that the Commission wasn’t getting cooperation from these provinces and DBE ensured that they all attend and prepare for the hearing. The Director General, Mr Mweli prepared a report of an overview of how the department had been monitoring trends of school violence, bullying as well as misconduct and submitted 10 documents to the Commission on 1 October 2019.

The Commission sought to obtain greater insights regarding what is happening in schools.

Mr Mweli was leading a delegation of Heads of Educations Department from four (4) provinces (Gauteng, North West, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal) who were all appearing before the commission to provide information on specific cases involving violence on learners and measures taken to address the situation.

The initial misunderstanding regarding areas of responsibility and expectations at the hearing between the DG and HODs was cleared. However, it appears that media reports seek to project the DG as an uncaring official who does not take issues of violence seriously, which is untrue. The Director-General spends more time on the ground visiting schools, than in the office, which demonstrates his commitment and concern about the plight and wellbeing of learners in our schools. Mr Mweli visits provinces on a regular basis in a year, to monitor schools, and interact with learners, teachers and officials.

It would have been better if media reports focused on what the Commission sought to achieve as opposed to focusing on peripheral matters.

To demonstrate that the DG was adequately prepared for the meeting, he gave the Commission the following documents, and provided additional documents required by the Commission:

Sexual harassment policy

Protocol for the Management and reporting of sexual abuse and harassment in schools

Gender Based Violence Learner Guide

National School Safety Framework

Management of Physical Violence in Schools

Optimus Study Inlcuding the snap results and the high rates of sexual abuse with younger learners report

Standards Operations Procedures for DBE, PEDs, SACE and Department of Social Development.

The department rejects the notion that the Director-General was taking the CGE for granted. Mr Mweli has always arrived on time at the Commission offices, with the required documents and ready to answer all questions asked and provide evidence when required.

Source: Government of South Africa