MEC Lesufi not serious about eradicating asbestos schools in Gauteng

The Gauteng Department of Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi has failed to eradicate asbestos schools in the province. He constantly promises to replace all asbestos schools and classrooms with brick-and-mortar structures but to date this has not yet materialised.

According to MEC Lesufi, the department intends to replace 25 asbestos schools within the next five years and the remainder of the schools will be completed after the five-year period.

MEC Lesufi was responding to my written questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

A budget of R 38 811 000.00 has been allocated in this current financial year to replace 25 schools built predominantly of asbestos.

Of these 25 asbestos schools identified, only two are in the construction phase while ten are in the feasibility stage; six schools are in the inception stage; two schools are in the concept stage; three schools are in the design stage; one school is in the tender preparation stage and another one is in the retention stage.

This is the same number of schools that MEC Lesufi provided to me in a reply over five years ago and the timeframe given has been changing. Initial target was 2016 and then moved to 2022 but now it has changed again.

This clearly indicates that the department is not serious about eradicating asbestos schools in the province and cares little about the health and safety of both learners and teachers.

Money is not a challenge for this department as it has spent R450 million on deep cleaning schools in the province. Surely this money could have been used to replace asbestos schools with brick-and-mortar structures.

The Gauteng Department of Education should allocate more budget to school infrastructure. All asbestos schools must be demolished and rebuilt with brick-and-mortar structures before end of this current term of office.

For the longest time, the DA has been putting pressure on this department to eradicate asbestos schools. We have tabled several written and oral questions to both former MEC Barbara Creecy and current MEC Lesufi in the GPL as well as delivering numerous Member Statements in the House as a way of exposing the state of our schools.  A motion on school’s infrastructure was also tabled demanding that the department eradicate all asbestos schools in the province.

MEC Lesufi has on several occasions made promises to replace asbestos schools but the pace is very slow.

The department has failed to eradicate asbestos schools within the targeted time frame, the deadline of which was the end of November 2016.

We will submit our proposal during budget debates to put pressure on MEC Lesufi to fulfil his promises and to ensure that all asbestos schools and classrooms are demolished and rebuilt with brick-and-mortar structures before end of this term.

 

DA calls on MEC Lesufi to open the 2022 academic year online admission in April this year

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on the Gauteng Department of Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi to open the online admission for the 2022 academic year in April this year. The finalisation of all placements should be concluded in October this year.

By moving the online admission earlier, this will provide parents with parental choice to select the schools they want for their children, and ensure they have enough time in doing so. It will also afford the department enough time to plan and ensure that all learners are allocated schools before the start of the 2022 academic year.

The online admission must be used to assist the department with planning and budget allocation.

Currently, there are more than 600 learners who have not yet been allocated schools. These learners are dangerously falling behind in the curriculum and have been denied their right to access to basic education.

The department has failed to use the online application system to plan for placement for the 2021 academic year, as the process was done very late.

Further to this, the department failed to spend more than R1.3 billion in the 2019/20 financial year.

This money could have been used to build more new schools in high demand areas where there are new housing developments, and help ease classroom overcrowding in existing schools.

The department has no excuse to return any portion of their budget to Treasury, as there are many areas of concern that require urgent funding.

The department must provide the necessary resources to schools before the start of the 2022 academic year, so that learning and teaching will not be disrupted like it has in years before.

Learning, teaching disrupted by EFF at Pretoria North schools

Note to Editors: Please find a list of our questions to the MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi here.

It is extremely concerning to note that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are once again disrupting learning and teaching at Pretoria North Schools, with a blatant disregard for the Constitution that protects a child’s right to basic education.

The Danie Malan Primary School in Pretoria North has been shut down by the EFF, with chains and locks placed on the school gates. The Department of Education has advised parents to make alternative arrangements for their children.

Earlier in February learning and teaching was disrupted at the Gerrit Maritz High School, Akasia High School and Pretoria North High School.

The EFF is demanding that learners who have not been placed at schools in the area, be allocated.

While the DA understands the frustration of the delayed placing of learners, it is unacceptable that teaching and learning is disrupted. We are living in a ‘new normal’ due to the Covid-19 pandemic and every minute of teaching time is valuable and cannot be lost.

I have already submitted written questions to the MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi about the current situation at the two schools that have been affected by protests to ascertain exactly how many learners remain unplaced, how many additional learners can be accommodated at the schools in the area, and if he has engaged with the parents on the matter.

The DA has already called on the MEC to urgently place all learners who have not been allocated a school, to ensure that learning and teaching resumes for the academic year.

Johannesburg North in dire need of additional schools due to increasing new developments in the area

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) conducted oversight inspections at three schools in Cosmo City, and one school in Northriding, and discovered that there is a dire need of additional schools in Cosmo City due to overcrowding in classrooms.

Despite the fact that there is a rotational learning and teaching system, the number of learners in classrooms remains too high. This also makes it difficult for learners to adhere to the health protocols such as social distancing.

While Cosmo City Primary School 2 has a capacity of 1200 learners, they currently accommodate more than 2125 learners as they continue to allow admission. Cosmo City Primary School 1 has a capacity of 1080 but currently have 1765 learners. Cosmo City Secondary School is also overcrowded with 2000 learners.

These schools are in dire need of additional mobile classrooms, however there is not enough land to place these classrooms, leaving the school with no choice but to use sports facilities as learning spaces.

The major challenge is that there are only eight public schools in Cosmo City, four being primary schools and four being secondary schools. As the area continues to expand with new housing developments, there is a need for additional schools to accommodate the number of learners in the area.

Furthermore, safety and security remains a challenge for Cosmo City Secondary School, as three burglaries have already taken place, where 52 computers and three laptops had been stolen.

The DA calls on the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi to ensure that his department reduces underspending by ensuring that they build more schools in Johannesburg North to avoid overcrowding in classrooms.

We also call for an urgent co-operation between the provincial and local government so that proper planning can be done to accommodate the demand of more schools in the area as a result of new developments.

DA calls on MEC Lesufi to allocate schools to all unplaced learners before the end of this week

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is deeply concerned that 1004 Grade 1 and 8 learners have not been allocated schools despite the fact that they applied on time and that the 2021 academic year resumed yesterday.

These unplaced learners have missed the first day of schooling and as long as they are not yet placed, they will continue to miss out while other learners are progressing with the curriculum.

The department should be held responsible for not allocating the learners on time as well as the glitches on the online admission process.

The DA has been inundated with phone calls and messages from desperate and frustrated parents who applied on time, yet their children have not been allocated schools. This includes learners who are placed far from their place of residents or where their parents work.

The online admission has denied parents opportunity to choose best schools for their children. The DA will call for the review of this process to ensure that parental choice is protected.

By not placing learners on time, the department is depriving these learners of their right to basic education which is enshrined in the Constitution.

Furthermore, we call on the department to ensure that there is adequate infrastructure and resources in all Gauteng schools. They should commit to build additional classrooms in schools that are experiencing overcrowding and provide additional resources.

Vacant posts should also be filled as a matter of urgency to reduce overcrowding and to ensure that learning and teaching takes place without any further disruptions.

The DA calls on the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi to finalise the placement of all learners who have not been allocated a school, before the end of this week.

 

GDE incurred more than R1 billion on irregular expenditure in the 2019/20 financial year

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is concerned that the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) has incurred R1 030 657 000 in irregular expenditure for the 2019/20 financial year.

This information was revealed in the department’s 2019/20 annual report.

According to the Auditor-General, effective steps were not taken to prevent irregular expenditure amounting to more than R1 billion. This irregular expenditure is as a result of non-compliance in respect of procurement and contract management.

The reports of more than R 431 million in irregular expenditure purported to be used to decontaminate schools last year clearly confirms that the department is disregarding the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

Senior management have failed to adequately review and monitor compliance with the PFMA and treasury regulations. There are number of allegations of procurement irregularities, financial misconduct, fraud, and theft relating to prior years.

The DA has tabled written questions to the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to establish the status of investigations into these allegations.

Lack of consequence management contributes to irregular expenditure. These irregular expenditure amounts are increasing on a yearly basis and this clearly indicates that the department is failing when it comes to good governance.

It is high time that both the head of department and chief financial officer should explain why the department has failed to take the necessary measures to avoid irregular expenditure arising from procurement processes.

DA calls on MEC Lesufi to place all learners who applied on time, tomorrow

The Democratic Alliance ( DA) in Gauteng is calling on the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi to ensure that all Grade and 8 learners who applied on time for the 2021 academic year are placed by tomorrow.

According to MEC Lesufi, about 20 000 applications have not yet received their placements.

The DA in Gauteng is urging MEC Lesufi to place all learners who applied on time. It is important that learners receive their placements so that their parents and schools can plan for 2021 academic year.

The DA has noted comments made by MEC Lesufi indicating that not all learners will be placed, however the DA demands that the MEC should finalize the placement by tomorrow.

The department must avoid placing Grades 1 and 8 learners in February which will result in disruption of learning and teaching and loss of schooling time. The online admission process should be used to assist the department with planning and resource allocation.

The department must directly allocate money to schools to build more classrooms to ensure that there is adequate space to accommodate the demand . There is also a need to speed-up the process of constructing new schools in areas with high demand due to new housing developments.

The department must communicate the latest placement statistics with parents so they are able to buy uniforms, stationery and are ablest to budget for transport and school fees.

Also the MEC must share contact details where parents who aren’t happy with their placement to appeal. Parents are currently not sure who to direct their objections and appeals.

MEC Lesufi needs to ensure that all learners receive their reports

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has learnt that a secondary school in Hammanskraal is refusing to give learners their report cards.

It is alleged that the Adam Masebe Secondary School is withholding the reports until a R100 donation is paid to the school.

This is unacceptable as this is a no fee-paying school and learners should not be punished for not being able to pay a donation.

This means if parents cannot afford to pay the donation the learner bears the consequences. The withholding of a report is not allowed as per the school’s policies. In such instances, the school must engage directly with the parents or guardians as it is their responsibility to ensure that all their childrens’ needs are catered for.

The DA calls on the Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi to urgently intervene and ensure that all learners from this school receive their report cards. If these allegations prove to be true, the principal of this school must be held accountable.

DA calls on SAPS and GDE to investigate taxi accident which left 21 learners injured

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling on the police and the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) to investigate the cause of an accident which left 21 learners injured at Reinecke Street, Carletonville.

The learners were on their way to school when the accident happened this morning.

The taxi that they had boarded collided with another vehicle. The injured children were taken to nearby hospitals for medical attention.

The DA wishes a speedy recovery to 21 injured learners.

We will monitor the investigations into this accident to ensure that the causes are identified and those implicated face the course of the law.

The DA is calling for the department to consider scholar transport as part of school safety strategy. This must include private vehicles transporting learners to and from schools.

Hoërskool Driehoek: DA joins the nation in mourning the loss of four young lives

The Democratic Alliance joins the people of Gauteng, South Africa and the Hoërskool Driehoek community in mourning the sudden and tragic loss of four young lives.

We further convey our thoughts and prayers to at least 21 pupils who were injured in this incident, and commend the speedy response of EMS personnel.

It is vital that all learners and teachers are afforded counselling.

As a parent, the greatest fear is the idea of burying your children. This reality has befallen the families of the young lives lost in this incident. Together we mourn as a province and nation, and pledge our support to the parents and guardians.

We call on the Gauteng Department of Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi to investigate the cause of the accident and to ensure the safety of the learners and teachers in this school.

I will be visiting the school on Monday, 4 February to personally express my sympathies and lend my support to the community during this time of grief.