By Edmund van Vuuren (MPL), Shadow MEC for Education:
A total of 57 Grade 9 learners from Station Hil in Port Alfred will not continue on to their high school careers next year, because there is no school for them to go to.
Despite a community march in April calling for a high school in Station Hill, where I received a petition signed by 600 residents and which I forwarded to Education MEC Mandla Makupula, as well as numerous follow-ups and parliamentary questions, the department has done little to relieve the plight of these indigent children.
In a caring society, where there are opportunities for all, all children should have fair access to education. However, under the current ANC-government, poor societies are simply being marginalised further by uncaring departments who do not have the interests of citizens at heart.
Only 13 of the 70 Grade 9 learners from Port Alfred Primary School in Station Hill have been accepted to other schools to continue on to Grade 10 next year. The other learners cannot afford to go to the local former Model C Port Alfred High School. They are from indigent homes and are on a waiting list for either Kuyasa Combined School or Mary Waters in Grahamstown, which is 60km away. It seems all applications from Station Hill to Alexandria High School (49km away) have been turned down. Sadly, 15 learners did not make applications to any schools.
We simply cannot allow that an entire year of learners is spat out of the system and left on the streets of Station Hill.
I will be meeting with the new Superintendent-General for Education, Siza Netshilaphala, on Friday to find urgent solutions to ensure that these learners can continue with their education.