Kingsmead Cricket Stadium : August 10, 2002

Master of Ceremonies, the Honourable Minister of Education and Culture, Professor L B G Ndabandaba, Chief Executive Officer Professor C R M Dlamini, representatives of teacher unions, departmental officials, school educators and school governing bodies.

I welcome the opportunity to participate in this Education Imbizo at the invitation of the Minister. I appreciate the Minister’s recognition of the contribution that I can make at this Education Imbizo. It is no misnomer that this gathering is described as an Educational Imbizo. In traditional African culture an imbizo is called in order to address urgent serious matters. You have identified the following pivotal elements: Administration, Management, Governance and Discipline in schools. 

We are assembled here today as partners. We acknowledge that the realisation of our cherished dream of delivering an efficient and effective education system depends on opportunities that we create in order to share collective wisdom. Collective wisdom is not the preserve of the education family which consists of the political leadership in the ministry, the administrative components under the leadership of the Chief Executive Officer, the educators, the learners, the school governing bodies and teacher unions. Collective wisdom abounds in the different sectors of civil society which include retired educators and administrators, both active and retired tertiary institution educators attached to education faculties, education researchers and policy analysts as well as religious leaders and communities. 

We dare not downplay the contribution of Amakhosi and their people to the promotion of the educational endeavour in our province. Today we give credit to Amakhosi and their people for a job well done. We are witnesses to the untiring efforts of Amakhosi and their people and the sacrifice they continue to make in support of the education of their children. We owe it to the poor communities who regard education as a worthy area of investment. 

An education system worthy of support and promotion is anchored on a broad catchment area of skills and knowledge. As an educational leader in my own right I have devoted my working life to the attainment of high standards of performance and achievement. My love for education and dedication to a worthy cause inspire me to provide mentorship to the Department of Education and Culture in this province. I am committed to a noble goal of sharing my knowledge and experience with the Honourable Minister and the Chief Executive Officer. I have a moral obligation to ensure that this province leads the struggle for the delivery of an excellent education output. I will not associate myself with mediocrity, inefficiency, maladministration, ill-discipline, laziness and corruption in schools. I set my sights on developing schools of excellence in this province. I am referring to schools in which dedication, commitment, industry and the maintenance of a high work ethic is the norm. Today I challenge teacher educators, education leaders, learners and school governing bodies to strive for excellence. I appeal to all teacher unions to support the education endeavour in this province.

Let me invite you to a worthy exercise in introspection. 
Have we over the past eight years taken significant strides to improve our education output through the harnessing of the skills that are there in the schools and administrative units of our Department? 
Have we made any serious effort to draw the skills of the previously marginalised female educators and administrators? 
Do we accept that transformation makes heavy demands on our outlook to life? 
How long shall we ignore the demand for change? 
How long will selection procedures discriminate against capable females? 
How long will highly qualified, experienced and industrious ladies be excluded from decision making positions within the department? 
Is there any moral justification for violating the constitution of the country? 

Change demands of us to afford women leadership positions which they deserve and which they have worked for over the years. 

I place my trust in the women who continue to render meritorious service in education. I call for a change of heart and a paradigm shift that will culminate in the redress of this unacceptable situation. Leadership knows no barriers. No impediments of whatever nature should be placed on the career paths of deserving women. Decision making should not be the male preserve. We have a duty to promote women into decision making posts. The future of this education department will be shaped by our response to the acceptance of women as partners who deserve equal treatment with men. 

I challenge men to adopt a broad outlook and to accept that there are women within the education family who can turn this department around. Let us do the right thing now! Opportunities are open to dedicated and skilled women. Good ladies, be assertive and demand your legitimate recognition. 

It has come to my notice that all is not well in the relationship between the teacher unions and the Department. The Department is being accused of lack of even handedness in its dealings with the unions. The Department is being accused of building a partisan relationship with one teacher union to the total exclusion of other teacher unions. This state of affairs should be resolved amicably without further delay. I have been requested to intervene in this desperate situation. I am willing to facilitate a meeting between the Department and the affected unions. We cannot afford this untenable situation. The temporary withdrawal of three teacher unions from the provincial education labour relations council is regrettable. I am committed to the resolution of this impasse. 

May I wish you all a successful imbizo which shall take resolutions aimed at achieving excellence and recognition of skills and talent which continue to be ignored.