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Quality education partnership collapses

Sunday, 28 February 2016 I For immediate release

A three-year-old initiative between the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) and Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) to enhance teaching and learning in the province has collapsed following charges by the FBOs of the GDE “steadily ignoring” their requests for dialogue on aspects of the partnership.

The initiative, Faith for Quality Education (FQE), is based on a memorandum of understanding between the two organisations signed in March 2013. Its objective was for them to work together “to promote or develop the goals and objectives of the partnership for the enhancement of teaching and learning within the province of Gauteng.”

Today, however, the FBOs, chaired by respected Anglican Bishop Peter Lee, announced the termination of the agreement as a result of the inability of the GDE to implement the partnership agreement.

Repeated requests by the FQE since the memorandum’s signing to meet senior officials of the GDE to clarify roles, responsibilities and reporting structures of the partnership had also been unsuccessful.

“The programme has been bounced about from one directorate or sub-directorate to another, without consultation or effective follow-up. As a result, the lines of communication, accountability and effective action in both directions between the parties to the MOU remain obscure.”

The Executive Committee of the FQE was further advised by the GDE that a budget of R3million had been granted to the programme, but that the funds must be administered by the Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership and Governance under the direction of the Liaison Committee.

In October last year, Bishop Lee said, expenditure of R3million was disclosed to the FQE Executive for the first time by the secretariat appointed by the GDE, Mr Richard Setati and by officials of the Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership and Governance.

However, no expenditure has ever been authorised by the FQE committee in terms of its minuted decisions that expenditure was only to be released on requisition with the prior knowledge of the committee.

Having been made aware of the unauthorised expenditure in October 2015, Bishop Lee said the FQE Executive immediately brought this to the attention of the then Acting Chief Financial Officer of the GDE, Mr J van Coller.

“Four months down the line, it would appear that no action has been taken in this respect,” Bishop Lee added.

He added that members of the FBOs had to date served on the Executive without remuneration.

“What is the point of a memorandum of understanding, however noble its intentions, if one of the parties – the GDE – steadily ignores the other party, ie the Faith Based Organisations?” Bishop Lee asked.

As a result both of being ignored and the allegations of misappropriation of funds, he said the FQE Executive of the FBOs had no choice but to terminate the agreement.

“It is indeed a great pity and deeply saddening that such a worthwhile initiative should flounder in this way. The MEC for Education has repeatedly drawn attention to the role of faith-based bodies in sustaining local communities in Gauteng and in the schools which serve these communities.

“The FBO community stands ready to offer that service, but the stakeholder partnership has continued to be inhibited in its functioning by a series of handicaps that ought to have been overcome long ago. As a result, we can no longer see the way forward for FBOs to continue to be involved in this partnership,” he said.

The Liaison Committee has been drawn from the Bah’ai community, the Traditional Healers, the Council of Muslim Theologians and a wide range of Christian groupings, together with associated religious service providers. The current committee includes Mu’Alima Amy Fakude, Pastor M Gololo (Soweto Ministers’ Fraternal), Revd Stephen Mbatha (East Rand), Moulana Ismail Variava, Bishop Paul Verryn (Methodist) and Chairperson Bishop Peter Lee.

In terms of the memorandum, the Faith Based Organisations undertook to:

  • Help the GDE in making education a top priority within communities and the province;
  • Provide pastoral care and related services to those in conflict, bereaved and traumatised in schools falling under the GDE;
  • Support school activities such as clean up campaigns, cultural activities, sports days, learner graduations, celebrations, blessings for learners before and after exams and related matters;
  • Implement partnerships with schools, at the initiative of either schools or FBOs, by agreement, in line with the framework agreed between GDE and FBOs at provincial level;
  • Assist the GDE in ensuring a safe and crime free environment for schooling and in protecting schools and their assets; and
  • Appoint members to a liaison committee between the parties, follow guidelines issued by the liaison committee, and co-operate with monitoring and any necessary interventions made by that body or its district subcommittees.

The Gauteng Education Department, on its side, undertook to:

  • Provide access to schools and other centres of learning on clear terms and conditions for the purposes of FBOs’ support activities;
  • Avail human resources, technical resources, guidelines, protocols, and other resources for enhancement of the goals of the GDE-FBOs partnership;
  • Assist the Faith Based Organisations with suitable platforms for advocacy work, motivational, spiritual, pastoral and educational care and support;
  • Coordinate the GDE-FBOs partnership and offer secretariat, marketing and communication work;
  • Assist in setting up structures at district level to set forward the goals of the partnership; and
  • Appoint members to a liaison committee between the parties, follow guidelines issued by the liaison committee, and co-operate with monitoring and any necessary interventions made by that body or its district subcommittees.

The Southern Africa Territory of The Salvation Army encompasses four countries – South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland – and the island of St Helena. Its officers, soldiers and full-time employees provide their spiritual and community services through approximately 230 corps (churches), societies and outposts, as well as through schools, hospitals, institutions for children, street children, the elderly, men and abused women, and daycare, goodwill, rehabilitation and social centres.


Media Contact: Bishop Peter Lee
Tel: 011-435-0097
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