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Media Release

Thursday, 9 May, 2002

Premier announces new Head of Education in the Western Cape

Statement by André Gaum, Western Cape Minister of Education.

Mr Swartz and the Minister

The Western Cape Premier announced today (9 May 2002) that the Province has appointed Mr Ronald Swartz as the new Superintendent-General and Head of Education in the Western Cape.

Mr Swartz is currently Deputy Director-General responsible for Curriculum and Districts with the Gauteng Education Department (GDE).

The Western Cape Cabinet approved the appointment yesterday (8 May 2002) following a rigorous and lengthy selection process. We are currently discussing the date on which he will assume his duties. This will be finalised shortly.

Mr Swartz has a thorough grounding in teaching and in education management, having risen through the ranks from teacher to Director, Chief Director and Deputy Director-General. He has acted as Superintendent-General from time to time in Gauteng.

He has considerable experience in teacher training and is well acquainted with teaching issues, having held the positions of Chairperson of the Progressive Teachersí Union and National Vice-President of the South African Democratic Teachersí Union.

The selection process included a battery of tests, in addition to interviews. We thank the University of the Western Cape and Corporate Services for their assistance in this search for the right candidate.

The process initially resulted in a list of 14 candidates. Further tests reduced the list to five. I am pleased to say that we have now completed the selection process, which has been thorough, open and transparent.

The selection panel comprised the Premier, Mr Peter Marais; myself as Chair; Ministers Ebrahim Rasool, Pieter Meyer and Nomatyala Hangana; and the Acting Director-General of the Province, Dr Gilbert Lawrence.

I am satisfied that Mr Swartz has the ability and drive to provide the visionary leadership in our department that is so important.

Mr Swartz is an excellent strategic thinker, with exceptional leadership and facilitation skills. He is a team player, who works well with people to achieve results.

Iím sure that he will be able to take education in this province to even greater heights, and that he will bring with him the valuable insights he has obtained as a Deputy Director-General in a large province with exceptional challenges such as Gauteng.

He has roots in the Western Cape, having studied at the University of the Western Cape.

I would like to call on all concerned to welcome him as a valuable team player in our endeavours to bring about quality education for all, to put learning first, and to enable more and more learners to break through to a better future.

I would also like to take this opportunity of thanking Mr Johan Fourie, who has held the position of Acting Head of Education since May last year, and his top and senior management team, for managing education in the Western Cape so ably over the past year.

We have an extremely capable team in place on all levels in the Western Cape Education Department, thanks to the quality of our leadership in the WCED. This will make it much easier for Mr Swartz when he takes over the helm of this department.

Mr Swartz matriculated from Coronationville High School in Johannesburg in 1975 before completing his BA in 1979 and his Secondary Teacherís Diploma in 1980, both at UWC.

He has a BA (Hons) degree from the University of South Africa. Other qualifications include certificates in Education Policy Analysis and Social Change; Public Service Management; the Labour Relations Act; and Strategic Management. He is completing a Masters degree in Education Policy at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Mr Swartz taught for six years at a high school level before lecturing in education at the Rand College of Education for a further seven years.

He formed part of the first Strategic Management Team of the Gauteng Education Department after the department was first formed in 1994.

He was appointed a District Director in April 1995; Regional Chief Director in June 1999; and Deputy Director-General in June 2000. He held positions of Acting Deputy Director-General in 1998 and 2000.

He has extensive experience and understanding of education policy, planning and operational processes, and a thorough knowledge of the legal and financial frameworks in which education operates in South Africa.

He has taken a keen interest in education developments in other countries, particularly those involving disadvantaged communities.

Examples include research into accelerated teacher education programmes for disadvantaged communities in Canada and Nicaragua (1993); and a visit to four South American countries last year to study rural and private education, school effectiveness and information and communication technologies in education.

Mr Swartz was Chairperson of the Progressive Teachersí Union from 1987 to 1991, and National Vice-President of SADTU from 1991 to 1993.

In a comment last night, Mr Swartz said: "I look forward to coming to the Western Cape. I am aware that there is an effective team in place at the WCED, so I will not be looking to make wholesale changes.

"For the first year, I will slot into the current plans of the WCED, to listen and to learn, so that we see where we need to take things from there. We are also entering the second quarter of the current financial year, so we canít upset the apple cart at this stage."

Enquiries: André Gaum 082-550-3938

Press conference


Issued by:
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
Email: pattwell@pawc.wcape.gov.za
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