DA to draft alternative functionality model as KZN oversight visits reveal “horror” rural schools

By Mbali Ntuli, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Education:

WHILE it was back to the books at most urban schools this week, with everything in place for the new academic year, DA KZN MPL’s saw a very different picture at rural schools during the Legislature’s back to school functionality programme.

The visits, which took place across the province, revealed several ‘horror’ schools.  Certainly, readiness to start teaching and learning was not the case.

Other issues of concern to the DA include Sadtu’s ongoing dominance in KZN education.  It is clear that the teacher union is calling the shots in our province, with representatives given undue prominence and space on these visits.

And then there is the ANC’s inability to separate state and party with some DA MPL’s reporting that school visits were being conducted like party rallies.

DA representatives on the different delegations found;

–          Nomaqoni High in rural Eshowe – this school has been dysfunctional for years yet the principal was only sent on a mentor ship course in July last year – too little too late for the 65% of matrics who did not pass.

–          Manxele High also in rural Eshowe – this school has gone from 100% pass rate in 2013/14 to 0% in 2015.  This raises questions around whether it is one of the schools that resorted to group copying in earlier years.  Maths, Accounting, Economics and Maths lit results point to completely unprepared learners

–          At Tholimfundo High School in Ezinqoleni, learners were still arriving at school at 9am.  Even worse, there were no teachers in classrooms.  This school also has no running water despite the necessary pipes having been laid in 2012.  The problem of intermittent water supply and lack of toilets was an issue at every school visited in this district.

–          At Isabelosethu School in Utrecht, the DA discovered the most appalling ablution facilities.  Apart from being filthy, there were also no toilet doors. (pic attached)

–          At Mona High School in Nongoma there was chaos after it was discovered that half the learners had been relocated to another school still under construction.  Immediate steps were taken to move these children back to the original school, with the DoE promising to deliver mobile classrooms, toilets and furniture so that teaching and learning can take place.  During the visit it also emerged that the DoE has no idea who is building the new school.

It is difficult to imagine how learners at these schools must feel.  The impact on their ability to perform optimally must be devastating.   It is desperate that so many are being denied the opportunity of a better life.

This week’s programme also raised other more generic concerns.   These include the prevalence of drugs and alcohol on school premises and the absence of any security at many schools. And then there was Premier Mchunu’s admission that KZN still has 193 schools where multi-grade teaching is the norm.

Perhaps most worrying though is that the challenges encountered at the schools visited are the same found every year.

They point to a department completely overwhelmed by its mandate and leaders who cannot solve problems despite having 12 months to ensure they do not happen again.

They also raise very serious questions around whether KZN’s ANC-led government is truly motivated to transform education in our province

The DA again calls on Premier Mchunu to let MEC Nkonyeni go for the sake of KZN learners.

The DA-led Western Cape has shown that non-performing schools can be turned around.

The DA in KZN today commits to preparing an alternative model for school functionality which we will present in due course.  The learners of our province deserve so much more.