Elsenburg: the youth is the Future of Agriculture in the Western Cape

By Beverley Schäfer MPP, Standing Committee Chairperson for Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture, Western Cape Provincial Parliament:

Ms Joyene Isaacs – HOD

Officials from the Department of Agriculture

The Management and Staff of Elsenburg College


Ladies and Gentlemen,

A welcome to all of you here today, at the opening of the 2016 Academic Year at Elsenberg College.

While 2016 brings a number of great economic and climatic challenges to the forefront, it also brings a wealth of opportunities.

You may wonder why I come across as an eternal optimist, even though I must admit, I actually am.

But, I really do believe that 2016 is the year of the student!  All of you sitting before me here today, will be the very young people that, in the near future, will lead our agricultural sector and take agriculture to a new level.

We know in this Province, that one of the best investments this government can make, is in our youth. The Western Cape has allocated R56.9 million to the Structured Agricultural Education and Training programme for the 2015/16 financial year.

The future of agriculture must be protected and sustained and it is through places of learning such as Elsenberg, that we can continue to grow this agricultural economy, create competitive and innovative farming practices through new ideas, and bring passion and pride back to the agricultural sector.

Project Khulisa – our project to reduce poverty in the Western Cape, has identified Agri-processing as a high-potential sector. Agri-processing holds particular potential to increase employment in rural areas. If it receives the dedicated attention and support, it could add up to 100 000 jobs and generate R26 billion for the economy under a high-growth scenario.

But we cannot achieve this, without the much needed water resources and infrastructure, and we certainly, cannot achieve this without you.

We need the necessary training and skills that you will receive here at this college, together with a mind-set of innovation, to ensure that Agri-processing in the Western Cape remains competitive to current global markets.

We have taken the language tensions and transformation issues at Elsenburg very seriously. A full team, of both management and the College Council, is engaged in finding sustainable solutions to overcome these issues in the interest of the future of agriculture and of our country.

To date, the following steps have been undertaken:

-The College Council instituted a task team to engage with students and key stakeholders to facilitate the development of a new language policy;

-As undertaken by Management, several engagements have already been held with the Student Representative Council, House Committee as well as the entire student population;

-Independent mediators have been appointed to facilitate the transformation process, diversity management training and conflict resolution has been implemented involving students, lecturers and administrative personnel.

Flowing out of last year’s protest actions, it was agreed that the best course of action going forward will be:

  •          In the short term, lectures will be duplicated so that they take place in both English and Afrikaans, this gives students the choice to learn in the language in which they feel most comfortable. A full programme was implemented to ensure that lost learning time was made up, as well as a programme of tutorial classes was introduced.
  •          In the medium term, a new language policy is being developed. This process is already underway, and forms part of the broader transformation imperative being implemented to encourage inclusive and quality education.
  •          We also welcome the partnership with the University of Stellenbosch for innovative ways to tackle the language issues.

We are pleased that all parties have come together to find solutions, and have agreed to go forward in a constructive manner. We are eager to address the language and transformation issues at Elsenburg, and are dedicated to pursuing this jointly with all stakeholders involved.

It is important to note, that Elsenburg delivers a world-class education in one of our key economic sectors and it is important that we work together to maintain this high standard.

We have the best interests of all the students at heart, and we will continue to develop creative solutions in line with our broader transformation imperative.

To all the students here today, we must take you forward with us -to ensure that your years of learning are quality years of acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills as the future of agriculture in South Africa is in your hands.

Institutions of learning are places where bonds should be formed, and we trust the students of this College will, in good faith, do their utmost to be part of building a stronger democracy in our country.

I thank you.

DA KZN Education MPL to visit Austerville Primary tomorrow morning

Today, Friday, 22 January, DA KZN Education Spokesperson, Mbali Ntuli, MPL will visit Austerville Primary.

This follows almost a week of protest action by parents and community members due to the allegedly irregular awarding of a principal’s post.


The DA has been aware of this issue since last year, with Cllr Aubrey Snyman and DA activists having been at the forefront of the matter at a local level.

Despite their numerous interactions with various KZN education department officials there is still no clarity on the way forward.


Given this dead end situation, the DA at a provincial and legislative level will now take up the matter, starting with tomorrow morning’s visit.

Date                            22 January 2016

Time                            7:30 am

Venue                         Austerville Primary, Silvertree road

Scholar Transport: Learners are once again stranded

By Jane Sithole MPL, DA Spokesperson on Education:

More than a week into the 2016 school year, learners from Nokuthula Primary School in Mkhondo municipality are still without transport to get them to school.

Last year, the provincial Department of Public Works Roads and Transport (PWRT) withdrew its scholar transport programme to the area leaving nearly 200 learners stranded.

For over six months, concerned parents along with the School Governing Body (SGB) and the school principal have been trying unsuccessfully to compel the department of Education to intervene.

The actions of the department of PWRT under the leadership of MEC Dumisile Nhlengethwa coupled with the continued silence of Education MEC, Reginah Mhaule on this matter is actively denying the children of Nokuthula Primary School their constitutional right to quality education.

With the country’s ailing economy, it has become even more important for the government to ensure that no learner is left behind by the schooling system.

Quality education will ensure that our children have better access to opportunities for higher learning and gainful employment.

The Department of PWRT and the Department of Education must provide answers to the Nokuthula Primary School learners on why they have been abandoned, why the departments have remained silent on the matter and what plans are in place to ensure these learners return to school and catch up on all the work missed.  Both departments must provide the parents, learners and the school with a plan to combat the problems facing the scholar transport system.

The DA will continue to fight for quality education for all learners in every school. Every child deserves the opportunity to reach their potential through access to quality education which also requires a reliable transport mode to school.

ANC MPL lays charges against EC Department of Education

By Edmund van Vuuren (MPL), Shadow MEC for Education:

ANC MPL Christian Martin’s must show some political will and ask the Eastern Cape MEC for Education, Mandla Makupula, to resign instead of taking action against the wrong people.  This morning, MPL Martin laid criminal charges against the Department of Education in connection with the closure of schools in the northern areas due to teacher shortages.

The ANC is so confused about what the solutions are that they are now laying charges against each other.

By opening a case against the department, is MPL Martin admitting that his party has failed the people of the northern areas by not providing the necessary human resources and therefore implying that his party should not be supported, due to non-delivery?

MEC Makupula must resign and spare the province from another year of self-denial, failure and turning a blind eye to the shortcomings in his department.

Education is the ticket out of the poverty cycle, but the freedom to access opportunities for our learners are being destroyed by a dysfunctional department.    It is time for a drastic political intervention.

It’s time for fresh political leadership at the helm of this department.

DA repeats solutions for PE northern areas school closures

By Edmund van Vuuren (MPL), Shadow MEC for Education:

Eastern Cape education MEC Mandla Makupula continues to pay lip service instead of acting to bring an end to school closures by parents in Port Elizabeth’s northern areas.  Had the MEC considered my proposals, which I have made repeatedly in letters, legislature speeches and statements in the media, we would have avoided this situation entirely.  The MEC is playing politics with the shortage of teachers in the northern areas and has not taken this matter seriously.

The pathway to real freedom is having access to decent education.  This right is being trampled on in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth by the MEC for Education by refusing to act.

We are aware that the MEC has availed 1 665 posts to all 23 districts within the province.  Unfortunately, we do not know how many posts have been allocated to the Port Elizabeth district and how many of those posts have been earmarked for school in the northern areas.  We are all aware that posts have been drastically cut in schools across the province and more particularly the northern areas.

This department must create opportunities.  It is only fair that our schools in the northern areas should be allocated enough teachers so that there is a teacher in each and every available classroom.  Our children are not being afforded the freedom to have access to quality education because of the absence of educators in the classrooms.

I once again table my proposals to MEC Makupula for solutions to the teacher crisis in the northern areas:

  • Rehire retired educators and those who have resigned, who are willing to deliver a service and who have the appropriate qualifications, for a fixed period for the vacant post profiles in the northern areas.
  • The department must compile a comprehensive list of all substantive vacant posts within the northern areas and advertise these posts as wide as possible. They should target the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Free State where there may be an abundance of qualified teachers not currently in posts within those provinces.
  • Consider also, for a closed period, the transfer of teachers from schools within the country as well as within the province who have close ties with PE and would like to relocate to the city and, in particular, the northern areas.
  • Request Afrikaans-speaking teachers who are teaching subjects other than Afrikaans in Xhosa/English medium schools to volunteer to be transferred to schools within the northern areas.

There are not enough qualified Funza Lushaka bursary holders in PE to fill the vacuum.  It is of paramount importance that these and all other proposals are considered and implemented without delay to bring stability to the schools in the northern areas.

Education remains the foundation for opportunities

Several FS schools have not been paid 4th Quarter subsidies

By Mariette Pittaway, DA MPL in the Free State Provincial Legislature:

The Free State Provincial Department of Education continues to delay the payments of subsidies to schools as it struggles to get a grip on its finances.

Several public ordinary schools have not yet been paid their fourth quarter subsidies.

This came to light after the DA in the Free State Provincial Legislature conducted a mini survey on the payments of subsidies in the province. The information gathered paints a shocking picture.

The DA contacted 30 high schools and 20 primary schools out of which 21 high schools and 16 primary schools have confirmed to us that they are yet to receive their allocated subsidy payments for the fourth quarter of the 2015/16 financial year.

The DA have agreed to keep the names of the schools confidential since principals fear victimisation from the department.

Meanwhile, Education MEC Tate Makgoe has been crisscrossing the province to deliver motivational speeches to learners, which would all come to naught if the schools these learners attend do not have the money to pay for water, electricity and other necessary services.

MEC Makgoe should be in his office to ensure the timely payments of subsidies before he makes money available to tour the province. He must immediately ensure that his department facilitate the payment of subsidies to all schools in the province.

The DA has urged the department to get its finances in order for several years now, but it appears that MEC Makgoe does not have the political will to bring his department’s finances under control. Last year the department incurred R600 million in unauthorised expenditure, while it failed to pay teachers’ salaries and school subsidies on time.

It is worth noting that the National Minister of Education, Angie Motshekga, said that she is really ashamed to admit that the DA-led government’s performance in managing the Western Cape Provincial Department of Education and the delivery of education, is exemplary compared to all the other provinces under ANC governance. This is a serious indictment by an ANC minister on her own party’s underperformance in education.

The only solution to improve education in the Free State over the long term is to vote in a DA government.

Contractors dumping school projects: MEC must account

By Jacques Smalle MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson on Education:

The DA has written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Education, calling upon MEC Ishmael Kgetjepe to explain why his department failed to take action against the contractor who left the project incomplete at Luatame Secondary School in Makhado despite being paid in full.

The contractor was appointed in 2010 for upgrades at the school but the school is still incomplete. The school has an enrolment of 611 learners but they are currently trapped in dilapidated  and overcrowded classrooms.

The contractor was paid more than R30 million and left without filling excavated holes making the renovated classrooms dangerous for learners.

Last year’s 2015 matric pass rate also dropped from 83.63% in 2014 to 57.57% due to lack of proper infrastructure.

It is clear that the department does not have a proper monitoring system in place to monitor the process made by the appointed contractors before paying them.

Improper planning, poor management , lack of accountability and maladministration in the department of education has led to this school being neglected and vandalised daily by community members

Abandoning such a multimillion project is a clear waste of state resources and the contractor must be hold accountable by either paying  back the money or completing the renovations.

The DA urges MEC Kgetjepe to take action against contractors who abandon projects by blacklisting these companies to ensure that they don’t qualify for any future tenders from government.

The DA has submitted written questions in the Legislature seeking the number of incomplete and abandoned projects , budgets allocated to these projects ,  timeframes of completion and whether the incomplete / abandoned projects resulted in any legal action instituted by either the department or the contractors.

MEC Kgetjepe witholds AG’s management report to hide the Limpopo department of education’s pitiful performance

By Jacques Smalle MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson on Education:

The MEC for Education, Ishmael Kgetjepe is deliberately concealing the Auditor General’s (AG) management report of the Limpopo department of education ahead of the Local Government Elections (LGE 2016).

The Limpopo department of education received its fourth consecutive disclaimer from the AG which affirms the DA’s belief that it needs an overall systemic change which strategically exceeds the Premier’s cosmetic changes of the department MEC’s and officials.

The DA has received reliable information that this management report paints an even bleaker picture than the previous one. The only logical conclusion is that the MEC is attempting to hide the dismal performance by the department by not making the report readily available.

The people of Limpopo have the right to fully appreciate the real reasons for the drop in the matric pass rate, why the  full Norms and Stanards are not being paid out to schools according to the prescribed guidelines, the reasons for the poor state of infrastructure and lack of proper sanitation facilities at some of our schools as well as reasons for the persistent irregularities in the financial management, specifically not following the supply chain management procedures in the awarding of tenders.

It is therefore imperative that MEC Kgetjepe releases the report immediately in compliance with the application submitted in terms of the Promotion to Access to Information Act (PAIA) by the Democratic Alliance in Limpopo on 20 August 2015. Despite the deadline for the application lapsing, the MEC is yet to furnish us with the report.

Holding the MEC and the department to account and to promote  transparency and effective governance is a responsibility which the DA takes seriously.

If the MEC has nothing to hide on the part of the department he must release the report forthwith. Failure to do so will leave the DA no alternative but to seek remedy from the courts.

MEC Matsemela misleads public about schools in Kopela

By Cllr. Piet Miga, DA Tswaing Councillor:

The Democratic Alliance in the North West is concerned with the lack of urgency shown by the Department of Education to fix the dilapidated classrooms of Kopela near Delareyville.

Since September last year residents of Kopela have been protesting against poor service delivery, they have burned down three schools and a clinic that served over six surrounding villages.

Learners have gone back to dilapidated, unsafe classrooms. The buildings are burnt and have damaged ceilings, and government has not intervened in trying to amend this hazardous situation.

Noto High School is the only High School that accommodates learners from the surrounding village. It is extremely overcrowded with only eight classrooms to house 548 learners.

To make matters worse, schools do not have running water and electricity. There are no computers or printers, teachers have no offices and they do not have teaching materials to conduct classes.

These circumstances will have a negative impact on the learners’ morale as their environment is not conducive to learning.

The DA is of the view that the learners’ right to education has been violated, learning should take place in a nurturing and conducive environment.

The MEC for Education Me Wendy Matsemela has publicly said that the situation in Kopela is under control whilst learners are clearly suffering the effects of her department’s ineffectiveness.

The DA once more appeals to MEC Matsemela to keep her promises to the community by starting to deliver mobile classrooms in Kopela.

The DA will also write to the MEC demanding that they provide water tankers to the schools in Kopela so that the learners remain hydrated at all times. Schools should be given basic resources to fully operate.

Where the DA governs we have a good track record of service delivery as issues are dealt with promptly without delay.

DoE’s R908m bailout from Treasury no big surprise

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

NATIONAL and Provincial Treasury’s drastic step of providing the province’s Education department with a R908million bailout should not come as a big surprise given the many years of financial mismanagement within this department.

Two years ago the DA called for a full enquiry into the financial affairs of KZN’s DoE.  After some reluctance MEC Peggy Nkonyeni commissioned an enquiry.

This was completed a year ago.

Despite calls by the DA for the MEC and then Premier Senzo Mchunu to release the findings, there has been no tabling of the report or even any mention of it in portfolio committee meetings.

The findings of this investigation would have helped the MEC finally identity the many problems with her department’s finances.  They would also have ensured that a plan to remedy the situation could be formulated.

Two years of inaction show that both the MEC and the Premier do not care that millions of rands meant for the learners of KZN are still being spent in dubious ways every year.

The ANC only has itself to blame for the dire situation that KZN’s Education department finds itself in.

Given the current economic situation in our country, the ANC in KZN must explain why it is consistently incapable of responsible spending when it comes to the most important budget in the province.

Until MEC Nkonyeni releases the findings of her commission of enquiry – as well those which form part of a further RR44 million spent by the DoE on other forensic investigations  –  KZN will not have a functional education department, let alone one that ensures that the best interests of learners is upheld.