Education Department in Crisis

Safiyia Stanfley, MPL

DA Provincial Spokesperson on Education

It is extremely worrying that the Northern Cape department of Education is shutting down schools willy-nilly, without any consideration for the continued education of affected learners. As much as we don’t want to see children exposed to asbestos or other hazardous building materials, the department must see to it that proper contingency plans are put in place before schools are closed.

It is unacceptable that the department took a unilateral decision without consulting the parents and the school governing body. The processes are not there for show; they are there to be followed. It appears that the asbestos problems at the school have been reported on as far back as 2006 – why has it taken until now for a solution to be implemented?

It seems that the department of Education has continually been on the back foot this year, with no plans to address critical challenges within the education system. We have seen disastrous management of the schools crisis in John Taolo Gaetsewe, which ultimately led to the deregistration of matric learners, while the department dithered on whether or not to host matric camps for affected learners. Why is there no clear, strong leadership within the department? Why is there no proactive approach that can prevent problems from developing into full-blown disasters? With a department that is only focused on addressing crises, the day-to-day business of education suffers.

As the DA, we have already posed written questions on school closures to the department. We now understand why they have not been more forthcoming on this topic. We will continue to pursue the matter to determine if any other schools in the province will be closed and, if so, to see to it that the correct procedures are followed.