By Mariette Pittaway, DA MPL in the Free State Provincial Legislature:
The Free State Department of Education informed the NCOP Select Committee on Education and Social Services yesterday that the department has closed down 24 farm schools in the province as part of its rationalisation process.
While the DA agrees that schools which are no longer feasible need to be closed or amalgamated with other schools, due to low learner enrolment as a result of rapid urbanisation and the migration patterns of communities, the process must be done in a transparent manner involving extensive public consultation.
In addition, learners affected must be assisted with transport, lodging and new uniforms if and where necessary.
MEC Tate Makgoe has simply refused to answer a written question pertaining to the department’s rationalisation programme since 15 October 2014.
The DA has also submitted additional questions on the construction of new and the expansion of infrastructure at existing schools, these too remain unanswered.
It is expected that as Leader of Government Business, MEC Makgoe should take the lead to account to the people of the Free State through the Provincial Legislature in replying to questions. Sadly, this is a constitutional obligation MEC Makgoe would much rather like to ignore.
In fact, MEC Makgoe has not answered a single written question submitted to him this year.
The refusal to reply to written questions indicate that MEC Makgoe and his department may want to hide embarrassing information from public scrutiny. The biggest question remains, when will MEC Makgoe account on his department’s rationalisation programme to the Legislature?
The people of the Free State deserve to know how many schools have been closed, whether existing schools are being upgraded and if new schools are being constructed.