By Dr Tutu Faleni, DA North West Spokesperson on Education:
The Democratic Alliance applauds the decision taken by the community of Southey in Ganyesa to allow schoolchildren to return back to school to finish their school year.
Teaching and learning came to a halt for nearly three weeks in 17 schools located in 21 villages in Ganyesa because of a community protest against government after the suspension of a road construction project.
At a meeting between the community members of Southey and the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Roads on Friday 30 October, the community was informed that the contractor appointed for the construction of the road has returned to work.
In the light of this development, the community decided that schoolchildren should return back to their classrooms.
Whilst the DA understands the frustration that leads communities to stop children from attending school as means of reinforcing the protest action of the community, we do not believe that stopping children from going to school is a constructive way of expressing dissatisfaction with poor service delivery by government departments.
The DA will continue to support the constitutional right of the citizens of South Africa to peaceful and non-violent protest against poor service delivery by government.
The DA has noted the steps taken by the North West Department of Education to remove Grade 12 learners from Ganyesa to a camp in Schweizer–Reneke where they will write their exams without the threat of being interrupted.
We welcome this initiative but believe that the Education Department should have acted earlier to enable Grade 12 learners and teachers to thoroughly prepare for exams.
The DA urgently calls on Education MEC, Wendy Matsemela, to put in place an intensive catch up programme that will ensure that learners receive the necessary support to prepare for the end of school exams.