By Mike Moriarty MPL, DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Finance:
A total of 46% or 938 of just over 2000 public ordinary schools in Gauteng, do not have fully stocked and functional libraries, denying learners the opportunity to broaden their knowledge base in subjects outside the school curriculum.
This was revealed in written response to a DA question in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.
Click here to view the response.
Most of the schools without working libraries are in poor areas, and the DA is particularly concerned over the effects on the poorest of the poor – who have no other way to get information and knowledge.
The current low education outcomes are not surprising. This is a disgrace and a travesty. Gauteng’s poor will continue to remain at a disadvantage and will continue to struggle to get jobs or some form of higher education.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi claims a number of reasons for this shortfall, such as budgetary constraints, school budgets not being ring-fenced for libraries and that schools built before 1994 were built without libraries.
The DA believes that the MEC’s arguments hold no merit, as the department has had more than two decades to wipe out the backlog. If anything, libraries are simply not a departmental priority.
This is in stark contrast to the Western Cape, where more than 86% of all public ordinary schools have fully functional libraries or media centres.
The DA-led government’s position has been that libraries form part of our broader programme to ensure text-rich schools, and from 2007 to 2012 established libraries in all Quintile 1-3 schools in the province.
Over the past three years, around R600 million was invested to provide schools with textbooks and reading books to support the introduction of the CAPS curriculum, and grade-specific reading books were provided to every primary school classroom as part of this programme.
The department provides book wagons in smaller schools that do not have enough space for libraries, and has a fleet of mobile libraries in buses that cater for remote schools in rural areas.
Of particular interest is that Western Cape schools are responsible for stocking libraries using allocated funding in terms of national norms and standards, which implies that MEC Lesufi needs to insist that such funds are ring-fenced in Gauteng.
Gauteng, in its position as engine room of the South African economy must take the lead and provide quality education in our schools, and give young people a competitive advantage as they seek for jobs.