‘Department is failing NC schools’

2018-02-07 06:01

The Northern Cape Department of Education has received a failing grade from the DA with regards to passing the school readiness test.

The department has been accused of having adopted a devil-may-care attitude and of seeing more importance in being photographed at the right school on the first day of school, rather than actually dealing with admission placements throughout the year.

This is according to the DA, which has highlighted how the department had allegedly failed to ensure that all schools in the province were fully operational on the first day of school.

Safiyia Stanfley, DA spokesperson for education in the Northern Cape, elaborated in a statement on how the problems of learner placement at schools had been allowed to escalate into catastrophes.

She stated that it was no longer news that Northern Cape learners were not placed at the start of the school year.

Stanfley expressed how unacceptable it was that learners had to suffer because of the department’s negligence.

She called on Martha Bartlett, MEC for Education, and the officials responsible to do what is needed to solve the urgent problems of learner placement.

The DA raised concerns last week following the department’s updates that by last week 700 learners were still waiting for placement.

“Since the department has taken this function from schools, learners are routinely expected to wait for three weeks or more before being allowed to exercise their constitutional right to education,” Stanfley said.

“Many of these learners are in Gr. 1 or Gr. 8, which are critical grades.

“It seems that problems with late applications or unexpected influxes can only be experienced by the department, as schools never reported such dramatic disruptions to education.”

Another concern that the DA raised was the upcoming water and electricity service cuts which are expected to affect schools in at least four municipalities.

“It is common sense that this will have a knock-on effect on the quality of education possible.

“Municipalities with outstanding debt were warned in November 2017 that bulk suppliers may suspend services.

“But the department apparently decided to sit on their hands for three months and enjoy their Christmas holidays rather than pro­actively finding solutions for all the schools.”

Revelations from the department that no funding was available to assist schools with their outstanding municipal and Eskom service accounts for the current financial year also did not sit well with the DA.

“From where did the department then find the R150 000 which it availed to the Hantam High School in Calvinia earlier in this financial year to pay the school’s debt to Eskom?

“What happened to the task team which would allegedly have investigated the circumstances at the school and provided a provincial way forward, or is this just another example of promises made to placate parents when education stands still?”

The DA touched on another school issue, the Noupoort Gekombineerde Skool saga, where the school is reported to be in the process of shutting down because of outstanding Eskom debts.

“Had the task team delivered on its mandate, Noupoort Gekombineerde Skool could have been assisted instead of being left in the dark.”

  • The Northern Cape Department of Education was approached for comment, but at the time of going to print, no feedback was received.

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