#GPSchoolsAbuse: Only a commission of inquiry will suffice

 

The DA will continue to put pressure on  Gauteng Premier David Makhura to urgently establish commission of inquiry into sexual abuse, and related matters in Gauteng’s schools as we believe that only such a commission will fully probe this crisis.

The charm offensive strategy launched by Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, is ill-thought as this “task team of three MECs” have very limited investigative authority.

Furthermore, the legitimacy of Community Safety MEC Nkosi-Malobane’s call for security vetting beyond just criminal records for patrollers, is questionable. The MEC failed to thoroughly vet security patrollers stationed at schools in the province in the first place and therefore it would make no sense for her department to conduct the vetting in retrospect.

Stricter measures should’ve been considered a long time ago and, if it were, this crisis might have been averted.

Security vetting and all other issues surrounding the process must be probed.

Only a commission of inquiry would have wide-ranging investigative powers and the ability to subpoena individuals and officials to answer questions under oath and to expose existing loop holes in the process.

Other matters such as safety at Gauteng’s schools, reporting on sexual abuse by minors, the interventions available and the awareness and handling of issues at schools and districts relating to sexual abuse amongst others, can only be fully probed through a commission.

Only the Premier has the jurisdiction to appoint such a commission and if he does not do so very soon, it will send out a clear message that, despite his grandstanding, he does not take this shocking situation seriously.

DA Gauteng debates Motion on Scholar Transport

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education, Khume Ramulifho MPL and DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Education, Ashor Sarupen MPL, during a debate on scholar transport.

Speech by

Khume Ramulifho MPL

“Departmental support for scholar transport inefficient”

• We have the responsibility to widen the scope of the Scholar Transport Programme within the department, to ensure that all scholar transport vehicles are roadworthy. Scholar transport must be reliable, arrive on time and driven by sober drivers;
• Is the department building schools too far from where learners reside? Is it not possible to prioritise building schools in closer proximity to avoid the burgeoning scholar transport budget?
• The DA visited rural schools and we saw learners walking long distances yet the transport owner is paid. Equally, some battle to do homework after school as the buses leave immediately after class. A ‘one size fits all’ approach is clearly not the best method;
• We should allow learners the opportunity to choose the school of their choice and get support from the department. We must start to consider a budget which affords individual learners a choice. If this can cover scholar transport and tuition fees, it will be a progressive move which advances learner choice.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by

Ashor Sarupen MPL

“Low-income families suffer most when scholar transport needs aren’t met”

• The current Scholar Transport policy can only be made effective with enforceable regulations and better planning, including working together with municipalities, to ensure that learner transport needs are met. It is an area in need of serious reform;
• Many parents make major financial sacrifices to cover the cost of private transport to get their children to school, such as taxis and private busses, outside of the framework of the department, because government has failed them;
• Despite the 2015 national learner transport policy being implemented, and Gauteng enacting its own scholar transport policy, a report by Equal Education found that principals who apply for scholar transport assistance frequently give up, as their requests are not responded to by the department; and
• As it stands, the policy places the onus on low income and working class parents for ensuring their children arrive on time, it assumes hard working low income families have the time or agency to dictate the timing of both state and private transport for their children.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Who’s in charge: Lesufi or SADTU?

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is deeply concerned by disruptions in schooling districts where the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) is the dominant union. Instead of engaging constructively and putting learners first, SADTU has elected to collapse schooling by withdrawing its members from a number of schools in Johannesburg.

On an inspection of schools this morning, many schools in Soweto were non-operational, with learners lying in the sun and walking the streets. Their futures are being sacrificed at the altar of SADTU’s narrow politics.

In contrast, schools in affluent areas are pushing ahead with the teaching programme. While SADTU claims to care about the youth, in particular the poor black child, they continue to undermine their right to quality education. Despite this collapse in education, the ANC is nowhere to be found, meaning that they tacitly endorse the actions of SADTU.

SADTU has shown itself to have outsmarted MEC Panyaza Lesufi who also appears to lack the support of the ANC, in particular Premier David Makhura and MEC Paul Mashatile, both of whom rely on SADTU to get elected and fight their factional battles.

SADTU’s participation in today’s COSATU march only reinforces the idea that their only interests are ANC factional battles and politics, not teaching and learning.

SADTU stands as a barrier between the current poor state of education and quality education, which is delivered in areas were the DA has jurisdiction over education and SADTU’s influence is limited.

Anybody who undermines the right to education is an enemy of the youth and the project of building a better South Africa. The DA will always work towards ensuring that the right to education is upheld and protected.

Department allows SADTU meetings during teaching time

The Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, has stated that the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) is permitted to hold meetings during teaching time, as long as permission is sought.

The MEC states in a reply to Democratic Alliance (DA) written question that “The Department only gives permission to Union members to attend a meeting when a formal request to hold the meeting is submitted.” While the MEC states that this is in line with Chapter G of the Personnel Administrative Measures (PAM), the MEC should have to the foresight to realise the damaging effects disrupted teaching has on learners and their futures. The PAM should therefore be amended in order to put learners first.

On a recent oversight campaign to schools across Gauteng, I was alarmed to see learners meandering the streets from as early as 10h30, and upon further inquiry it was revealed that the learners had been released from school in order to accommodate a SADTU meeting. This is despite the MEC stating that meetings “are generally called after 13h00”.

This is not true as I am often called by parents who complain about SADTU meetings taking place earlier in the day.

SADTU’s disregard for teaching standards and the need for quality education, gives reinforcement to the DA’s call for the introduction of a National Education Inspectorate, to ensure that teachers and principals are supported and held accountable for the performance of their learners.

MEC Lesufi is continuously painted as ‘Mr Fix-It’ but this is only due to his ability to react to Twitter’s trending topics, not his work of fixing Gauteng’s broken schools. In the coming weeks, I will release the results of the DA Schools Oversight campaign, and tell the people of Gauteng about the true state of schooling in the province, not the sanitised version that has been presented by MEC Lesufi.

It is unacceptable that the disruption of the teaching day would be sanctioned by those entrusted with ensuring that leaners and quality education come first.

Anybody who undermines the right to education is an enemy of the youth and the project of building a better South Africa. The DA will always work towards ensuring that the right to education is upheld and protected.

Staff & parents at Kwanele Primary are allegedly facing intimidation by MEC Lesufi after DA expose

The DA visited Kwanele Primary school yesterday to assess progress since exposing poor learning conditions at the school last month. Learners were taught in a bus and overcrowded classrooms.

It is reported that on Wednesday, MEC Lesufi donated a cheque of R400 000 along with stationery and school bags on behalf of OR Tambo International Airport to Kwanele Primary. OR Tambo also donated a mobile library to the school shortly after the DA’s expose.

We welcome the initiatives of the private sector to assist Kwanele Primary

We welcome the initiatives of the private sector to assist Kwanele Primary and would like to thank OR Tambo Airport for their handsome donations, but this does not exonerate the Gauteng Education Department from their responsibilities.

It is regrettable that staff members and parents are allegedly facing intimidation from the department led by MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi and other senior officials of the Department. They are allegedly told not to talk to the DA as they will face consequences.

We will continue to put pressure to MEC Lesufi to build brick and mortar school at Kwanele Primary in Katlehong.

MEC Lesufi should focus on providing quality education

MEC Lesufi should focus on providing quality education across the board and not intimidate parents and school staff members who he has let down.

The DA will continue to conduct inspections to ensure that all learners and teachers are in a conducive learning and teaching environment.

 

Media enquiries:

Khume Ramulifho, MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education

082 398 7375

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Azara Secondary School in Lenasia in Desperate Need of Stringent Safety Measures

The DA in Gauteng condemns the vandalism of school infrastructure and theft of tablet PCs at Azara Secondary school in Lenasia.

During a recent oversight visit to the school I was informed that the tablets were stolen during the past weekend. It is alleged that two security patrollers failed to report for duty when the incident occurred.

During my visit, I observed the poor state of the school infrastructure, such as broken windows, doors and ceilings – all of which provide easy access to school property and pose a serious safety risk.

We call on Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi to investigate the theft of the tablets, and to establish whether there was any link between the theft and the absence of security personnel.

The DA has submitted written questions to MEC for Community Safety,  Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane to establish the role the police are playing to protect our schools, as well as to MEC Lesufi to establish the number of tablets stolen and recovered to date.

The DA believes that the MEC must ensure strong partnership with Community Safety to protect school facilities and infrastructure.

 

Media enquiries:

Khume Ramulifho MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education

082 398 7375

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Investigate Hill High Teacher Behaviour: DA

A video doing the rounds of an Afrikaans teacher from The Hill High School – South of Johannesburg – in a tussle with a learner is completely unacceptable.

The video shows the teacher forcefully trying to subdue a learner, by dragging him by his jersey. Corporal punishment which involves any type in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort – was banned in South Africa in 1997. The fact that it continues 18 years later needs urgent intervention by the Department of Education.

According to information received by a student governing body member, while the teacher has been approached about her unconventional disciplinary method; as seen in the video, her alleged abuse extends to the use abusive language at both learners and fellow teachers.

The DA calls on the Department of Education to investigate the incident, the behaviour of both teacher and learner, to prevent similar situations from re-occurring as well as to avoid the infringement of individual rights.

 

Media enquiries:

Khume Ramulifho, MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education

082 398 7375

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Parents Urged to Participate in SGB Elections

The DA in Gauteng urges all parents to take an active role in their children’s education and participate in the election of school governing bodies – which are set to take place from 6-28 March 2015.

The success of schools is dependent on good governance; with competent SGBs being the driving factor behind achieving quality educational outcomes.

The DA believes that the newly elected SGBs will place the interests of schools first and that school resources are used optimally to benefit learners.

We have proposed that the Gauteng Department of Education put in place training modules in order to fully capacitate SGB members.

Limited education resources should be used wisely to avoid unnecessary waste and mismanagement.

Reports on the performance of SGBs should be made public to ensure transparency, and that those members who have failed to perform are held to account. 

Media enquiries:

Khume Ramulifho, MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education

082 398 7375

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John Moodey to Stage Picket Calling for Provincial Referendum on e-tolls

Tomorrow, Wednesday, 4 March, DA Gauteng Provincial Leader John Moodey MPL, accompanied by Neil Campbell MPL, Solly Msimanga MPL and Khume Ramulifho MPL will stage a picket outside the Office of Gauteng Premier David Makhura in response to the premier’s failure to call for a provincial referendum on e-tolls during his State of the Province Address.

Moodey-John 200

Date: 04 March 2015

Time: 10:00

Address: Office of the Premier, 30 Simmonds Street, Johannesburg.

 

There will be ample opportunities for interviews and photographs. Members of the media are welcome to attend.

 

Media enquiries:

Tanya Heydenrych

Provincial Media Officer

0737016729

 

SPEECH ON THE DEBATE ON PREMIER’S STATE OF THE PROVINCE ADDRESS BY MR. KHUME RAMULIFHO DELIVERED IN THE GAUTENG PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURE ON 26 FEBRUARY 2015.

We need to invest in knowledge and skills.

 

The MEC for education has done a great job in facilitating placements of learners considering the demand of learners who were expected to be placed in January this year. Indeed, in terms of access to learning institutions the government has done well.

 

However, the battle to afford many young people with an opportunity to access quality basic education is still a huge challenge. It is difficult to experience real changes in many schools especially in townships. For instance, how will this be possible when 3 learners at Rebongwe primary school in Meadowlands are still sharing 2 chairs?

 

At the same school, kids sit on a “bankstoel”. This is depriving innocent children from conducive learning environment. Imagine 62 learners in one class! The department seems to have paid all the attention to paperless classrooms which they are only seven and forget other real challenges.

 

Another typical example is Buyani Primary school in Finetown. Grade 1 class has 80 learners in one classroom. On average classes have between 50 and 70 learners per class. I’m told that teachers bunk classes more often than at an acceptable level. Surely this is not what we are expecting. Where are the districts responsible for these schools?

 

It is regrettable that only 44 schools in Gauteng managed to get 100% pass in 2014. Quintile 1 has 3 schools, 26 of these schools are from Quintile 5. This is an indication of inequality in our education system. The DA believes that these schools in quintile 1,2 & 3 should be rewarded with more resources as recognition for excellent performance. This is good guide to fund learners from low-income families to receive most support from government.

 

The DA congratulates these schools as they achieved 100% pass from quintile 1,2 and 3 schools. Thuto Pele, Ramusukula, Dalpark, Phomolong and LG Holele secondary schools.

 

30 schools performed below 60%, the biggest concern is that many technical schools in quintile 4 performed badly. The quintile system is skewed, it needs to be reviewed.

 

There will be developments in our province, but the job will be done by outsiders as we aren’t producing scarce skills required.

 

Who will build all these projects you mentioned?

 

Manage the government’s money better. What we have been witnessing from schools through hidden forensic audit reports tell us different picture. Premier – I doubt your commitment with regard to fighting corruption.

 

You have the information about 159 schools where forensic audits findings confirm that principals committed fraud, corruption and there were maladministration or financial irregularities. At least 29 principals are implicated on the reports. Annual reports indicates that all cases are completed, so take action!

 

Why constitutionally constituted body, school governing bodies mandated by the constitution are denied access to these reports. Including the public, if you are found guilty why are we ashamed to let the public know?

 

You hide the forensic audit reports. Elected school governing bodies have no access to forensic audit reports about their own schools where they are entrusted with responsibility to look after. We then asked parents to be involved. I doubt if this is in line with clean government.

 

Fight fraud and corruption in our schools. Many schools in this province are cited as the highest in terms of corruption where some SGB members and principals are alleged to be the beneficiaries.

 

The DA has been questioning government commitment to fight corruption. Forensic audit reports conducted confirm that there is corruption and fraud being committed using state resources but no actions against the perpetrators. Why we can’t name and shame them?

 

How do we encourage schools to share resources and facilities, between schools and communities when individual schools aren’t held to account. SGB elections are coming next months, the DA is urging parents to take active stand and be agents in their children’s future through informed participation in we’ll run school governing bodies.

 

School infrastructure

 

We need better resources to ensure that our schools environment is conducive for learning and teaching. The approach adopted by this government to attract, retain, up-skill retrain teachers is weak considering that many teachers received shoddy education and the country is in desperate need to produce certain skills.

 

Many schools in township still lack libraries, laboratories, sporting fields and ICT infrastructure. The paperless classrooms are encouraging developments but all learners deserve opportunities. The new six schools to be made paperless, can they be in other municipality not Ekurhuleni alone.

 

Meadowlands, Dobsonville, Soshanguve, Sharpeville, Diepsloot, Orange Farm, Attredgeville, Kagiso,  Munsieville learners deserve paperless classrooms too! There is a need to reconsider the utilization of Gauteng on line facilities, they can’t be neglected as is the case in many schools to date.

 

Better resources require proper planning and infrastructure spending. Unfortunately there is poor planning and insufficient capacity to spend the budget.

 

Thank you!

 

 

 

Contact: Cell 082 398 7375