by Harold McGluwa MPL – DA Northern Cape Provincial Chairperson and Chief Whip of the Provincial Caucus
Date: 30 January 2018
Type: Press Statement
The Democratic Alliance urges the Department of Education to work with the Department of Roads and Public Works and the Dawid Kruiper Local Municipality to find an immediate solution to the water woes at the Welkom Primary School in Mier near Upington.
The school relies on a borehole for its water. Due to a faulty pump at the borehole, water has not been supplied to the school for the past two weeks. Toilets cannot be flushed, hands cannot be washed after meals and the resulting conditions pose a health risk. Parents of primary school children will know that young children in grade one or grade two don’t always have proper bladder control and it is inhumane to expect that children must go without bathroom facilities for an entire school day.
The average midday temperature in this region regularly exceeds 32 degrees in January. The school is expected to embark on sports programmes and yet cannot provide teams with a single drop of drinking water after practicing in this heat. This puts the lives of learners at risk.
As the school is a no-fee school serving a very rural community, it is practically impossible for parents or the school governing body to afford the necessary repairs. Teachers are forced to carry cans of water to school in the interim. This practice is however not sustainable as the water is donated by individuals with water tanks.
The decision has now been taken to send the learners home at 12:00 every day until the provincial government can get its act together.
I have contacted the MEC for Education to inform her of the situation and to prompt some reaction from her department, but to no avail. If the Hon. Martha Baartlett wants to be the MEC for Education and enjoy all the perks of her position, she must also be willing to roll up her sleeves and to do the actual work too. It appears that her uncaring approach has filtered down to the rest of the department, specifically the relevant circuit manager and district officials who have been made aware of the crisis and who have done nothing to assist.
By contrast, I have had wonderful feedback from individual managers at the department of Roads and Public Works, who are dedicated public servants and truly committed to serving the needs of the community.
It is imperative for the local and provincial government to take the necessary action, as a matter of urgency, to ensure that the school can resume its full cycle of activities. Our children cannot be deprived of education for a day longer.