Dr. Allan Grootboom, MPL
DA Northern Cape: Spokesperson on Education
071 682 6806
The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the Speaker of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature, Jacobus van Wyk, requesting that he call the Education MEC, Griezelda Cjiekella, and the Provincial Police Commissioner, Lt. Gen. Janet Basson, to present what plans and interventions they have in place to ensure the safety of learners and teachers, and prevent a repeat of the schooling crises in Oliphantshoek.
The Northern Cape Department of Education’s decisions to have all learners in Grade 1 to 11 repeat their grades next year, has prejudiced those learners who may have tried to beat the odds, and study for the final exams. These learners should have at-least been afforded the opportunity by the Department to write their exams.
The decision to have more the 2500 learners repeat their grades effectively means Oliphantshoek may have no Matric learners for the 2013 school year.
The schools in the area had been closed for six months after violent unrest, and incidents of the intimidation of learners and teachers by protesters occurred in the area. Even with periods whereby there was a lull in protest action, schools remained closed. Ultimately the responsibility for the unfair situation learners find themselves in can be traced back to the slow and uncoordinated response by the Education Department and the South African Police Services (SAPS). This saw the situation, escalate to the crises it has consequently become.
Learners in Oliphantshoek have been failed by the Provincial Government, and the continued lack of urgency shown by SAPS in tracking and arresting the culprits responsible for the violence and intimidation remains a major concern. To date only one arrest had been made on a charge of intimidation, and the case hadn’t even been brought to court yet. This situation is completely unacceptable, as it continues to place the safety of learners and teachers at risk.
Sadly it is unclear whether schooling will resume next year, as the communities grievance for the mayor to be removed has still not been addressed. The situation in Oliphantshoek needs strong leadership and action from the Provincial Government and the SAPS, as the future of thousands of young learners is at stake.