By Jacques Smalle MPL, DA Spokesperson on Education:
The Limpopo Education MEC, Ishmael Kgetjepe, has the opportunity to keep learners in Limpopo schools safe, by enhancing security measures following violent disruption of classes in several schools across the province spilling over from service delivery protests.
Last week, at least 13 primary and high schools, with hundreds of young learners from villages such as Ntamatisi, Folopo, Bolahlakgomo, Diforwaneng and Gedroogte in Lepelle Nkumpi Municipality, were shut down and learners were forced to join the community protests.
I am disturbed and saddened that school-going youth are used in the front line of violent protests. This can be prevented with better security at schools.
Recently , a learner died after falling from the back of a bakkie that was ferrying the learners to a protest.
To the credit of MEC Kgetjepe, the department did visit these schools, but it has failed to ensure that the community unrest does not continue spilling over into schools.
Earlier this year, schools around Malamulele were burnt down after a series of violent protests which brought the village to standstill. Learners futures were compromised, and I feel for the parents of these learners. They had no option but to stay away from school, knowing that their education was being compromised.
Recently, protestors around Burgersfort also disrupted classes in several schools around the area.
It is clear that many protesters are targeting schools to get attention from government and the department continues to ignore the plight for tight security in our schools. Where the DA governs, vulnerable schools have been provided with safety officers, trained by the Cape Town Metro Police, who protect school campuses. If the DA governed areas can achieve this, we urge MEC Kgetjepe to follow suit.
The consistent silence by the department implies that the safety and security of our children and their educational institutions is not a priority.
The DA urges MEC Kgetjepe to rise to the challenges in our schools by working with Limpopo SAPS and other security service providers to protect our learners and their education.