by Safiyia Stanfley – DA Provincial Spokesperson on Education in the Northern Cape
Date: 31 January 2018
Type: Press Statement
The Democratic Alliance notes that the Northern Cape Department of Education has, by all indicators, failed to ensure that all schools in the province were fully operational on the first day of schooling. We call on the department, especially the MEC for Education, Martha Baartlett, and the officials responsible to do what is needed to solve the urgent problems.
In many instances, these problems have been allowed to escalate into catastrophes because the department has adopted a devil-may-care attitude where it is more important to be photographed at the right school on the first day than to actually deliver services throughout the year.
It is by now no longer news when Northern Cape learners are not placed at the start of the school year. Since the department has taken this function from schools, learners are routinely expected to wait for three weeks or more before being allowed to exercise their constitutional right to education. Currently, more than 700 learners are still waiting for placement. Many of these learners are in grade 1 or grade 8, which are critical grades. It seems that problems with late applications or unexpected influxes can only be experienced by the department, as schools never reported such dramatic disruptions to education.
Schools in four municipalities are affected by cuts in water and electricity services. It is common sense that this will have a knock-on effect on the quality of education possible. Municipalities with outstanding debt were warned in November 2017 that bulk suppliers may suspend services. But the department apparently decided to sit on their hands for three months and enjoy their Christmas holidays rather than proactively finding solutions for all the schools.
It is also astounding to note remarks from the spokesperson of the department today that, for the current financial year, “no funding was available to assist schools with their current outstanding municipal and Eskom service accounts”. From where did the department then find the R150 000 which it availed to Hantam High School in Calvinia earlier in this financial year to pay the school’s debt to Eskom? What happened to the task team which would allegedly have investigated the circumstances at the school and provided a provincial way forward? Or is this just another example of promises made to placate parents when education stands still? Another school, Noupoort Gekombineerde Skool in Noupoort, is currently shut down because of outstanding Eskom debts. Had the task team delivered on its mandate, Noupoort Gekombineerde Skool could have been assisted instead of being left in the dark.
Schools such as the Phakamisani High School in Hanover are also shut because of unhappiness with the post provisioning. Parents at the dual-medium school, where more than two-thirds of the learners speak Afrikaans, want more Afrikaans educators to be appointed to decrease class sizes and increase learner performance. The department avers that, according to the post provisioning model, there are no vacancies at the school. Yet in every single committee meeting, the department swears with open eyes that vacancies throughout the province affects the quality of education negatively.
It is absolutely unacceptable that our learners must suffer because of this department’s negligence. It is becoming clear that it is only the DA, with its commitment to quality education, which can bring the level of service that our learners deserve.
DA Provincial Spokesperson on Education in the Northern Cape
084 919 4157
071 251 5558