Eastern Cape Legislature embarks on schools visit programme

EC Legislature Education Portfolio Committee in a drive to resuscitate Lady Frere district schools

The Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature Portfolio Committee on Education is embarking on a Schools visit programme across the Province. This is an annual programme where all the Members of the Provincial Legislature (MPLs) for eight groups to focus on all District & Metro municipalities. It started on the 13th of January 2017 and will continue until the 20th of January 2017.

A group of MPLs comprising of Nonkosi Mvana, Siyabulela Peter and leader, Mxolisi Dimaza is focusing in the Chris Hani District & today they gathered Department of Education officials, all Lady Frere Principals, School Head of Departments (HODs), Student Governing Bodies (SGBs) Emalahleni Municipality Councillors, Labour Unions and parents at the Education District office in Lady Frere from 10h00.

Honourable Chairperson, Dimaza told the stakeholders that the Committee is there to assess the schools readiness for the 2017 school calendar year and check what problems the schools are faced with and most of all how to turn around the 49,5% dismal pass rate the Lady Frere District received in 2016.

We want to check what went wrong in this district as it used to be one of the best performing districts in the province. Pointing fingers to individuals will not assist us, but we must all out our hands on the deck in trying to find feasible solutions to this problem he said.

Acting Lady Frere District Director, Thobeka Zibula gave an overview of the state of schools of the Lady Frere District and some of the challenges she presented to the Committee include:

Deteriorating pass rate: in 2014 the district received 63.9; in 2015 it got 46,2% and in 2016 it received 49.5%

Shortage of teachers for critical subjects such as Maths and Science as some are resigning

Non delivery of textbooks

In schools, glue is given as part of the Learner Teacher Support Materials (LTSM), but leaners are using it as a drug.

Non availability of scholar transport in most schools.

Learners not having birth certificates or Identity Documents are not getting funding from the Department, especially children of foreign national.

Late admission of learners which makes it difficult to fulfil the policy of the department that stipulates that by September all learners must be admitted for the following year.

A massive number of small schools that need to be closed down.

Out of 174 schools in the district, 86 of them are operating with 5 teachers or less.

The Acting District Director complained that the Department of Education is employing foreign nationals and give them a contract of three months yet they are good with Maths and Science. This is an administrative nightmare for us resulting in Maths and Science teachers starting late in schools and sometimes towards the end of the year she said.

In summarising the status of education in the district, Zibula said As the Lady Frere district it seems that we dream the impossible dream; we fight the unbeatable foe and we run where the brave dare not go.

Education Chief Director Phila Ngqumba said the department was unable to give solutions to the problems alone but said all stakeholders must come together. He said the reason textbooks were not delivered is because orders were only placed in December and he would make sure that there is consequence management as this is unacceptable.

Scholar transport is indeed a big problem for the department. SGBs and communities have agreed that some schools must be closed down and combined with some but it does not happen because of the non-availability of budget for scholar transport. Political leadership of the province must come with solutions to the problem of budget allocations he explained.

Honourable Mvana registered her disappointment with the district as it promised to improve further last year. She said proper channels must be taken to close small schools down and combine them to assist with improvement. She also questioned the relevance of Math literacy at schools and urged the department to scrutinise its curriculum streams and also offer career guidance to the learners.

Chairperson Dimaza also came down on the department for poor planning when it comes with the issue of dealing with foreign national teachers and promised to make it a priority issue to table in the Legislature House sitting.

The department must fact track the process of closing down small school in Lady Frere district, especially those that have Grade 12s. We cannot keep schools because they are named after our freedom fighters. For the sake of our learners and education of the province, this must be dealt with urgently Dimaza pleaded.

Dimaza said the problem with Eastern Cape is that it is concerned with beautiful schools instead of the quality of education and the department want to please everybody. Change is a must in the department and it cannot please everybody, it might be painful but for the better. We must close down these schools. What is important is what is taking place inside the schools; otherwise these beautiful schools will produce nothing but failures if we don’t take proper measures.

The Committee will continue with the visit next week and a report will be written with all findings and recommendations. It will be combined with reports of other groups and be tabled in the Legislature sitting as one report. Once the report has been tabled, it will be adopted and given to the Department of Education as a House resolution for implementation and make follow ups thereafter.

Source: Government of South Africa