By Safiyia Stanfley, MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson on Education in the Northern Cape:
The Democratic Alliance will conduct our own oversight visit to the Hoër Landbouskool in Jan Kempdorp after receiving a warning that teachers will go on strike on Monday. The teachers who are paid by the School Governing Body are yet to receive their August salaries, as the school allegedly has no funds to pay their salaries. Staff on the school farm and administrative staff paid by the School Governing Body have also had their salaries withheld.
Since August, the Democratic Alliance has twice requested the Portfolio Committee on Education to conduct an oversight visit at the school. The facts at our disposal indicates that an investigation into the chaos at the school is urgently needed. We are yet to receive the courtesy of a reply to our correspondence.
A number of concerns, including allegations of serious maladministration, have been brought to us by concerned community members. We know that complaints have also been raised with the department of Education, but have fallen on deaf ears.
Concerns include the abysmal state of school infrastructure, vandalism of infrastructure by learners, questionable appointments, a lack of learner portfolios and alarming mismanagement of school funds. While there is no money to pay the staff, some learners owe the school thousands. The school has specialized facilities which are not being maintained properly, including sections for poultry, goats, chickens, pigs and cattle as well as an abattoir and a dairy section. The trees on the pecan nut plantation have died and the water to the school farm has been turned off due to non-payment. Lucerne that has been procured through sponsorships cannot be watered.
How can the curriculum be taught to learners without these facilities?
We are informed that learners, including the grade 12s, don’t have portfolios. On what are the learners being assessed?
It is unacceptable that matters have reached this boiling point before there is any reaction from the authorities. The grade 12 learners are writing important exams and the grade 9 learners will soon write their Annual National Assessments. It is impossible for learners to receive an education of good quality in these circumstances.
As the Hoër Landbouskool is the only agricultural school in the province, we should treasure it as a provincial asset and provide it with the necessary support. Instead, the provincial government seems happy to sit back and watch it fall apart. We are losing learners to other provinces.