Friday, 03 October 2008

North West: will farm and rural mergers work?

Mergers of any kind, especially big and profit organizations can be good or bad. But this will only depend on the acquisition process.

Merger must be carefully weighed, warned Business Day, South Africa’s daily business and financial newspaper.

Whether this was considered by North West Department of Education on The Farm and Rural Schools Strategy or not remains unknown.

Be careful who you get into bed with, continued Business Day.

Getting into bed is how others would describe mergers and acquisitions especially big companies. Could the same be said about primary, secondary and high schools?

According to The Mail, North West department of Education proposed to merge the poorly and inefficient and ineffective farm and rural schools

You might have thought that mergers only ended in 2004 when Education Minister, Kadar Asmal slashed tertiary institutions from 36 to 21 – but it certainly did not!

Many schools within the province continue to be more ineffective and inefficient. This could be the result of lack of support that such schools get from their district, regional and provincial offices. Therefore, it is important before the provincial department embarks on a “merger” – that other alternatives should have been explored and exhausted.

Providing school principals and School Governing Bodies (SGBs) with management skills and support could go along way for the merger to be successful.

At the time of writing, it was not quite clear whether this merger will be a success or not. It was however through its proper implementation that the merger will be successful.

Moreover, the following factors must be taken into account by department when implementing such a merger strategy it intends to achieve:

    • Continuous and consistent consultation with the relevant stakeholders (parents,
      teachers, learners and the broader community or society that will be affected by
      the merger);
    • Well-researched pros and cons of the of the merger (especially
      on both students and teachers as some of them might have to be relocated) and
    • What the stakeholders can do to make the merger a success it intends to
      achieve or attain.
Any merger as a strategy that is well planned and implemented could be success and attain the set goals.

Most importantly, when implementing this strategy – The Farm and Rural Schools Strategy that seeks to “create bigger and more effective schools, which will make an increased resources provisional possible – is and must not be used by some school authorities to gains power over other as has been the case with the merger between University of North west (previously white and Afrikaans-dominated Potchefstroom university merging with university of Bophuthatswana, black-dominated)

Since the merger of the two universities in 2004, there has been a lot of changes and at times a lack thereof – including “centralizations of power” at Potchefstroom campus – taking place and still does.

Mafikeng campus has lost a lot of lectures due to the dissatisfaction the academic staff have experienced since the merger. The campus continues to lose its academic employees to its competitors, while others venture into different business e.g. consulting.

Therefore, if the North West department of Education is not very careful and considerate of the implications of the merger between the farm and rural schools, this could end up being a disaster and leaving poor students being the most affected “victims of circumstance.”

Merger implications, especially if negative, are likely to drive “aspiring” teachers away from the profession as a result – and many of whom (professional teachers) will leave for better offers and working conditions, as has been the case with North West university.

1 comment:

mikemathew said...

Jefferson County is in the northwest corner of the northern tier of New York, bordered on the northwest by the shores of Lake Ontario and the banks of the St. Lawrence River (with Canada on the far shore). To the east are the Adirondack Mountains. St. Lawrence County, another large milk producing county, is just to the north, at the top of the state, along the Canadian border.
Jefferson County, consistently ranks in the top three counties in New York State for overall milk production. The dairy industry here is one of the mainstays of what is predominantly a rural economy. Area dairy farmers have experienced trends similar to most dairy regions and the trend continues: fewer farms, more milk, but still many more small farms than large ones.