From the news desk

WCED to close loopholes for staff appointments

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The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is taking action after discovering loopholes in their vetting system. The action comes after the accidental employment of a paedophile as a tutor at a local school in Lentegeur, Mitchells Plain. The WCED plans to take action by strengthening their vetting system that will then lead to the abolishment of its loopholes.
Speaking to VOC Breakfast Beat, MEC for Education in the Western Cape Debbie Schafer said when the incident emerged, she was very concerned as to how it could have happened.
“I brought out my senior officials to come through and meet with me and we had a discussion,” says Shafer after hearing about the incident.
“Anyone who is seeking employment in the department in any capacity is required to be finger-printed and then we use services of an external provider that specializes in background checking to see if they do not have any criminal records,” says Schafer.
Brian Shofer, who was released from prison in 2010, had posted a series of online adverts to Gumtree offering specialised tutorials to learners in grades 2 to 11. He committed suicide while being detained at the Lentegeur police station last month.
Schafer said loopholes emerged when principals need substitute relief teachers for a short period of time. The substitute relief teachers, which are arranged at short notice, sometimes complete their services before their relevant information reaches their Head Office for the necessary background checks. This makes it possible for a criminal to be employed as a teacher.
The other loophole that is of concern is that of people that are hired by School Governing Bodies, whether permanent or casual, they do not undergo the same thorough checks as those employed by the WCED. SBG’s are required by law to make sure that whoever is employed as an educator is registered with the South African Council of Educators (SACE), however, the registration process by SACE are sometimes delayed. The delayed registration process makes the hiring process of SBG’s uncertain for a period of time.
Schafer adds that in order to improve the vetting system for staffs a new policy will developed for SGB’s to make sure they go to similar processes as for those who are not hired by the department directly. She said the WCED will compile a list of approved substitute teachers that have already been vetted for schools to choose from when they need somebody urgently.
“Once policies and procedures are in place, compliance is crucial,” says Schafer.
“This is why we will work with governing body and principal associations to improve compliance, and ensure accountability measures are enforced if they fail to comply.
“If anyone has any concerns they must report it immediately, and they must please do so, we have a hotline, which is 080 045 4647, where it can be reported to.” VOC


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