‘Give us a classroom so we can learn’

2012-03-06 07:00

Eastern Cape Planning and Finance MEC Phumulo Masualle got some last-minute tips ahead of his budget speech today from desperate pupils and schools in the province who gathered to picket outside the Bhisho legislature.

The gathering yesterday was to draw attention to the province’s education crisis. It formed part of education NGO Equal Education’s (EE) larger campaign for minimum standards for school infrastructure.

About 150 pupils from nine King William’s Town schools gathered with their teachers and parents under the Equal Education banner in front of the legislature’s entrance on Independence Avenue in Bhisho to plead for improved infrastructure.

Sibongiseni Mdila, a 14-year-old Grade 8 pupil at Dimbaza Central said: “We’re fighting for education in the Eastern Cape to be equal for everyone. We’re asking Mr Masualle to help provide us with adequate classrooms so we can learn.”’

The Eastern Cape is the worst province in the country in terms of education infrastructure backlogs, a situation caused by administrative bungles and inefficiencies.

Most schools do not have adequate infrastructure for learning, a problem that was discussed by the province’s portfolio committee last week.

Sixty-six percent of schools have unreliable or no access to water, and 40% of schools have unreliable or no access to electricity, said Equal Education. They also took issue with the provincial government’s inability to spend any of the R6.2 billion from national government meant to eradicate nearly 400 mud schools in the past financial year.

Equal Education researcher Lukhanyo Mangone said Masualle – who is also the ANC’s Eastern Cape provincial chairperson – should crack the whip on the underperforming education department.

“The Eastern Cape government needs to be held accountable for the manner in which it spends grants – especially those intended to remedy its education crisis. EE calls on MEC Masualle (to) explain why the grants have not been spent and to ensure accountability in the Eastern Cape.”

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