By Dr Tutu Faleni (MPL), DA North West Education Spokesperson:
The Democratic Alliance in North West is deeply concerned after the Department of Education has failed to ensure that nearly 600 learners of Matloding Village return to school.
The villagers have kept their children from going to school for weeks and closed a primary school, because their grievances get no attention from the Education Department.
At the root of the problem is the inefficient manner that the Education Department has failed to provide a High school for Matloding village. Parents are of opinion that there is no use sending their children to a primary school if they cannot pass on to a high school in their own village.
High school pupils here have to walk more than 12km to another village, where it is reported that they are bullied, beaten up and tormented by other learners from the local village.
The building of a high school was on the Department’s list of schools for the financial year of 2007/8, but instead the department spent over R8 million to build another primary school for the leaners of the area. The area now has two junior schools, but no high school. This is clearly illogical and a failure of government planning.
The DA is also concerned that police were called in, at an earlier community meeting on the matter, where an initial peaceful community meeting disrupted in chaos.
Members of the community were beaten, thrown with tear gas and violently dispersed with rubber bullets.
Among the injured was a pensioner and her medication was confiscated while in police custody. Another woman, Me Dikhai Motswasele has lost sight in her right eye after she was allegedly shot with a rubber bullet.
The DA strongly condemns this use of excessive force by police. Furthermore this bungling by the department has resulted in more teaching and learning time being wasted which put the future of the more than 600 learners at risk.
The DA will write to the MEC for Community Safety and Transport, Mr Gaoage Molapisi, to launch an investigation as to why police were called into the meeting, and why there was such severe police brutality.
The DA will also write to the MEC of Education and Sports Development Me Wendy Matsemela about the prolonged interruption of schooling for the 600 learners, to launch an investigation into why the community is still without a high school and why they found it necessary to build another primary school.
The right to education is enshrined in our constitution, and it is the responsibility of the Department of Education to ensure that the learners of Matoding return to school and that their needs are properly addressed.