DA seeks Human Rights Commission’s intervention to ensure learners’ placement before the end of this week

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has written to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) seeking its intervention to ensure that all unplaced learners across the province are allocated school placements before the end of this week.

The unplaced learners are being denied their constitutional right to access basic education by the Gauteng Department of Education.

This is unacceptable, as learners will continue to miss out on the much-needed everyday schooling. Furthermore, these learners have already fallen behind in the curriculum due to the rotational learning that was adopted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This has severely affected the quality of the basic education being offered to our children.

The DA has been inundated with calls and emails from parents whose children have not been allocated school placements and we have escalated these emails and calls to both the Gauteng Department of Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi and Head of Department to ensure that all learners are placed, however, to date, nothing has happened as many learners are still sitting at home and are still to be allocated school placements. 

The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) has also contributed to this crisis as it consistently fails to build schools according to specifications as well as fails to pay service providers on time and to meet deadlines. This has had a hugely negative impact on learner admissions as many projects are on hold which is delaying the intake of more learners at the start of the academic year.

The SAHRC has a responsibility to protect and advance the interests of our children and its’ intervention will assist in speeding up the school placement. We also demand that MEC Lesufi must engage independent schools to assist in enrolling some learners and give independent schools a budget to build additional classrooms, so they can place all learners who are sitting at home and have not been allocated school placements.

Vandalism, burglary of schools shows Gauteng government has abdicated its responsibility

The vandalism of public assets, burglary of schools, deterioration of government-owned property and unsafe buildings are all in some way or another, linked to the fact that this administration has abdicated its responsibility to manage the infrastructure under its custodianship and Mr Premier, this is an indictment of your leadership.

Despite R43 billion of assets, this administration has up until now not had any property management function to check the condition of buildings and other fixed assets, to manage leases in order to maximise revenue, to utilise its’ assets for the benefit of the community and to prevent the deterioration of the assets. The tax-payer is the victim of all of these leadership and management shortcomings because it is the tax-payer that picks up the costs.

In the context of schools, unsafe and insecure infrastructure impacts negatively on learning, puts the lives of learners at risk and gives rise to the increasing theft from schools. MEC Lesufi, appealing to the community and threatening the criminals publically has clearly not borne fruit. What is required is a management intervention and frankly, I do not believe that your department has either the expertise or the financial resources to deal with this matter. Please prove me wrong.

Throwing millions of Rands down a black hole on useless campaigns such as I Care We Care has also not worked, because the vandalism and theft continues unabated.

Besides the poor management of infrastructure, your party, Mr Premier, has failed the citizens of this province and this country by falling foul of your constitutional obligation to keep people and their property safe from the ravages of rampant criminality. 

On a previous occasion in this house Mr Premier, you threatened to unleash the criminal justice system on the so-called thugs in the business forums that disrupt our projects, and what happened, an escalation of disruptions. The citizens simply cannot rely on you or on SAPS to prevent the criminality that takes place in the context of our infrastructure. You have proved that you are incapable of arresting this problem, so are we destined to stand by and watch the criminals vandalise and steal our assets and our future?

If not Mr Premier, please indicate that you have a plan, because thus far, all we have seen and heard is propaganda and empty promises.

GDE accused of hiding its inability to fix crumbling schools

Despite self-serving propaganda from the Gauteng Education Department, their lack of urgency in dealing with crumbling and dangerous infrastructure at schools is being brought into question.

Several complaints about unsafe and dangerous buildings have been lodged, but only a few schools have been attended to, largely because of the department’s lack of planning and insufficient budget, leaving many learners at risk across the province.

In a recently released investigation by Equal Education, the Gauteng Education Department is admonished for the poor quality of their latest annual school infrastructure report. The movement claims that Gauteng and other provinces are unwilling to do the work necessary to provide accurate information on the implementation of ‘Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure’.

According to Equal Education, the latest Gauteng report is not a document of substance, contains no budget information and documents only limited plans for the future. A glaring omission from the report is information related to maintenance, including toilet maintenance.

Infrastructure backlogs such as asbestos schools and a shortage of toilets in 747 schools are not dealt with in a transparent manner in the Education Department’s report, leading to the conclusion that the department has something to hide.

It is also extremely disappointing that 260 out of 265 schools that require perimeter fencing and the required reduction of classroom backlogs will not meet the 2020 deadline.

A lack of proper planning to maintain infrastructure and fiscal consolidation due to a poisoned political environment, often results in provincial education departments being sucked into a perpetual cycle of fixing schools.

Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi needs to come clean with the public about his department’s inability to deal with this problem. Another tragedy which results in the death of learners at schools will not be tolerated.

Gauteng school infrastructure plagued by chronic underspending

By Ashor Sarupen MPL DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Education

Madam Speaker,

The Department of Education is entrusted with the safety, security, care and learning of our children for 12 years of their lives – their most formative years. What happens to our children in schools for the six or more hours a day they spend in school determines the path of their entire lives. Education is the quickest ticket out of poverty, inequality and redressing the imbalances of the past.

Poor education, particularly in a child’s formative years, cannot be easily undone in later years. It is no secret that inequality is a major problem in education – and that there is a massive infrastructure backlog. However, infrastructure project failure is endemic in schools in Gauteng. I can cite dozens of examples of schools where shoddy workmanship, contractors abandoning projects and ghost projects have taken place. This in and of itself perpetuates inequality in the system.

But, school infrastructure in this province is also plagued by chronic underspending, and the ANC government is robbing Peter to pay Paul over the next three years.

This ANC government has stolen and looted so much that you have decided to cut school infrastructure spending drastically. The Guptas live it up in Dubai, avoiding charges and enjoying their ill-gotten gains, while this Education department will be spending less on school infrastructure in 2018/19 than it did in 2014/15.

Let me repeat that – the ANC in Gauteng will spend less on school infrastructure in 2018/19 than it did in 2014/15. It will spend even less in 2019/20 and 2020/21. Last year you were supposed to spend R2.1 billion, this year you will only try to spend R1.6 billion, and next year R1.4 billion. Meanwhile, we still have asbestos schools, we still have insufficient and inadequate sanitation, we still have schools with an insufficient numbers of classrooms, we still have inadequate facilities for learners with special needs, we still have overcrowded classrooms and we still have schools without access to any sporting facilities.

Infrastructure is critical to creating an environment in which learning and teaching can be conducive. The Democratic Alliance believes that “every child must be provided with an opportunity to learn in a safe and nurturing environment to develop and reach their potential.”

The longer you fail on infrastructure, the more you fail in creating an environment in which our children can learn with the facilities they need.

This environment further requires that our learners are safe from abuse. I was alarmed to learn that the department did not historically vet all teachers and school support staff to ensure that our learners are safe.

Last year, the sheer number of incidents relating to the abuse of our girl learners in schools was incredibly disheartening and heart breaking. No girl child, and indeed, no child at all, should be preyed on by a teacher, a principal or a scholar patroller, or any support staff. Schools should be safe spaces for our children. This is the responsibility of trust that parents place on the department when they send their children to our schools. Last year, the department showed that it was failing on this critical responsibility.

The DA has called on the department to have a full scale, high level commission of enquiry into the extent of abuse in our school system – to date, this has not been heeded. You have a responsibility to create an environment in which learners can come forward, without fear of retribution or being targeted, with their right to privacy being protected, and with care and sensitivity, to ensure that we rid our system of any person who would prey on our children. This budget does not create a dedicated programme to achieve this.

Indeed, standards in this area need to be improved by the department, as the South African Council of Educators (SACE) has permitted 45% of teachers found guilty of sexual misconduct against learners, between 2009 and 2012, to continue teaching our children. If the unions won’t act, if SACE won’t act, then the department must do everything in its considerable power to protect our children.

The department should, immediately and without hesitation develop and implement a national school abuse policy that requires immediate reporting of physical and sexual abuse to the SAPS as well as appoint dedicated individuals in conjunction with the department of social development to report and manage a school’s response to abuse. This point person’s dedicated responsibilities should include pro-active follow-ups of investigations, so that any adult in the school system who abuses a child in any way, goes to jail. There should be zero tolerance on this matter. Furthermore, the department should create a dedicated learner helpline for learners to call to report abuse so that investigators can swiftly move in and deal with reported issues in schools.

There is a massive burden of trust on the Department of Education, and its budget and programmes, as well as its implementation, just creates a trust deficit. We cannot support this budget vote, as it is just a continuation of the department’s failed approaches to bringing equity to education, and ignores critical issues relating to school safety.

Education Department fails to spend allocated infrastructure budget

By Khume Ramulifho MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education


Madam speaker, 

This is the last budget of the 5th term of this legislature. We have noticed certain developments led by MEC Lesufi. No one can doubt the passion and commitment to education shown by the MEC. There are three projects introduced with some intensity. These include, the roll out of Information and Communication Technology (ICTs), introduction of an online registration system for grade 1 and 8 and the introduction of schools of specializations in Gauteng.

The ICT initiative roll-out is far more advanced than the Gauteng Online System. Even though, we have witnessed some challenges. Some are ongoing and others were historic. It is unfortunate that a positive project intended to benefit many learners in the province has attracted many criminals to our schools.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has made meaningful contributions on how to improve quality learning and teaching in Gauteng. The need to train teachers to embrace new technology needs to be given attention and isn’t really where it is expected to be at this stage. The DA continues to call for the department to engage communities to take ownership of our schools.

The emphasis on education technology is primarily to ensure that all learners from poor communities must have access to opportunities to gain meaningful skills while still at school. So that when they leave school, they have certain skills required by the job market. Our education must be linked to work skills.

The modernisation of school classrooms and the implementation of innovative technology is important in creating conducive learning and teaching environments. However, the costs and poor planning have been areas about which we have disagreements. The DA believes that the type of work done could have been achieved at a lower price. If there is better planning, the department will spend its entire infrastructure budget and demand more to deal with the backlog.

Madam speaker,

The online admission system is also a positive programme. However, when it started it was characterized by glitches. It is important to note that this year, the system had experienced minor challenges.

Though the DA maintains that the challenge is the department’s failure to make many of our schools centres of excellence. This is the long term and sustainable solution to managing the demand faced by a few excellent schools.

While there is a clear understanding of the limited resources, school infrastructure programme has failed both learners and teachers in this province. It is largely due to poor project management and lack of consequences for those tasked with implementation.

Treasury has been the biggest beneficiary when the department failed to spend its allocated budget. The DA has been calling for more budget allocated to fix school infrastructure but even when Treasury does make the necessary provision, the department failed to spend its allocated budget.

The department fails to spend its infrastructure budget, despite the fact that there are still more than 25 asbestos schools that have been declared as health hazards. Many schools are aging, they are deteriorating at a rapid speed. The most unfortunate ones are schools that are built after 1994, where they are joining aging ones but because of poor workmanship.

The department has also failed to build libraries, laboratories and sporting facilities. These are still privileges for former Model C and well-resourced private schools. Government must redress the past imbalances.

Schools are centres where learners’ talent get identified. When talent is identified, it must be nurtured. So those learners can lead productive lives because schools would have provided proper facilities. Imagine, learners who intend pursuing science professions who will only see real labs at varsity. This takes away an opportunity to be creative and innovative.

Some of the former Model C schools we have visited this year, have more than 20 sporting codes but many of the township schools we have visited have dusty football grounds. The inequality gap must be closed. Access to well-resourced schools cannot only be for those who can afford them.

Madam speaker,


The ECD program also failed to spend its allocated budget. This is historical, since I served on the education committee, the department has never spent the entire allocated budget. I’m referring to 9 years. But there are many learners who only start schooling at grade 1 because they cannot afford to pay for Grade R fees.

The same learners who are expected to attend no fee schools, are expected to pay for Grade R classes. If their parents cannot afford this, how will they pay for school fees?

Madam speaker, 

The DA recognises that education has taken a different turn. Instead of debating and deliberating quality teaching and learning, so many issues dominate the debate. If you make an observation on issues dominating the education agenda, they are mostly social ills.

This raises questions about the leadership we have and the role played in shaping society.

Though these are societal issues, they can’t be ignored. We have a responsibility to create an enabling learning and teaching environment. School safety, order, discipline, parental support and community involvement, quality teaching and school leadership and management should be priorities.

It is a known fact that all the best schools have high discipline, proper leadership, community ownership of the school and both learners and teachers understand what is expected from them. On the other hand, a dysfunctional school lacks all the above factors.  Given the fact that we know what the problems are at these schools, this should have made it easier for the department to the fix problems faced by these dysfunctional schools.

There is a general tendency to prioritize education when matric results get announced and when the admission process is underway. After that, its sexual harassment cases, burglaries, vandalism, theft etc – these social ills define our education system.

These social ills take away certain basic school resources. We have noticed disruptions caused when smart boards get stolen. When learners carry weapons to school.  The focus should rather be on assisting learners who are poorly performing across all the grades.

There are many teachers who are dedicated and committed to the work they do. They go to school very early and leave school after 15:00. Some teachers even teach on Saturdays without expecting additional money but expecting learners to excel in the subjects they teach. It is unfortunate that a few teachers involved in misconduct drag the entire profession into disrepute.

It is the responsibility of the department to create enabling learning conditions. Teacher quality is measured by content knowledge and experience relating to learners’ achievement. This can be made possible by providing principals with the necessary support to employ effective teaching strategies. Whether it be collaborative learning, looping, different instructions etc. this will only be possible when there is the necessary relevant support.

But many of our districts have been failing to provide the necessary support. District officials have reduced their school visits to a box-ticking exercise.

These are the areas in which the department can do better:

  1. a) District support – districts must be realigned to provide direct relevant support to schools.
  2. b) Conducive learning and teaching environments – many of our school infrastructure is a crisis in the making, schools must be safe centres. Infrastructure must be of good quality.
  3. c) Strong public private partnerships – communities must have ownership of schools. The private sector should be encouraged to get involved to solve certain challenges that may need more resources.
  4. d) School leadership and management – appoint principals and HODs based on merit not union affiliation.
  5. e) Quality of teaching and management – teaching strategies, assessment and time spent teaching.
  6. f) Corruption and financial mismanagement – looting and mismanagement takes away basic resources meant to benefit learners. This must stop.

The DA is concerned that basic school infrastructure will collapse as the pace and management of the projects are weak. Social ills are defining our education agenda.

Thank you.

R300m special needs school abandoned by Gauteng Education Department

It is shameful that a state of the art school with much needed facilities is standing empty while under-equipped schools are severely overcrowded and cannot adequately meet the needs of learners.

During the DA’s visit to the newly built Nokuthula LSEN School in Lyndhurst, Johannesburg today, we were shocked to see that there are no learners, no teaching and no learning taking place as the school stands empty.

The purpose of the visit was to inspect whether the school is operational and to assess the progress of learning and teaching at this school.

This school was officially opened in October last year by the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, Gauteng Department of Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi and the MEC for Infrastructure Development, Jacob Mamabolo and to date it is still not operational.

This school hosted the announcement of the Gauteng 2017 Matric results in January and we were given the impression that it would be operational at the beginning of the 2018 academic year but this never happened.

The school cost the Department R300 million, it has all the needed facilities including soccer, netball, rugby, volleyball fields and basketball and tennis courts. It also has an indoor swimming pool; however, it is disappointing that none of our learners are benefiting from this investment.

The Department has neglected this quality facility by not providing any maintenance; the grass is long with weeds all over the pavements.

We have been informed that the Department is awaiting an occupational certificate from the City of Joburg. This confirms that the Department builds schools without a proper plan in place and does not comply with the standard norms and rules.

This Department lacks proper planning and a cohesive strategy.

The same with Durban Deep Primary School in Roodepoort – this school was forced to shut down at the beginning of the year as the Department failed to pay for water and electricity connections from the City of Joburg.

The beneficiaries of this new school are still cramped in an unsafe warehouse in Marlboro while waiting to be relocated to this new school in Lyndhurst.

The Department is denying our learners, who are so desperately in need of this facility, an opportunity of a lifetime.

The DA demands that the old Nokuthula LSEN School in Marlboro be relocated to the new school with immediate effect.

We have engaged the both MEC Lesufi and City of Joburg to urgently attend to this matter. The City is waiting for GDE to submit rezoning and application for occupation certificate. The delay to utilize the state of art facility is with the MEC’s office.

Placing learners at the end of February robs our children of vital learning time

The DA in Gauteng finds it regrettable that many learners are denied access to basic education. It is unacceptable that more than 33 000 learners will not start their 2018 academic year today.

This is mostly due to poor planning from the department. More than half of these learners applied on time. The online registration created a picture of schools in demand and schools without pressure. The department should have used this opportunity to plan and allocate resources accordingly.

The DA is calling for MEC Lesufi to engage with independent schools to place the more than 33 000 learners in the province. The constitution guarantees individual rights to establish and maintain independent educational institutions that uphold standards that are comparable with public educational institutions. The state also has the options of subsidizing independent schools to ensure equal access, providing state-funded scholar transport and deploying more resources to poor schools to make them more competitive. Many schools will open today but they lack basic resources like functional laboratories, sporting facilities and desks and chairs.

MEC Lesufi must approach Finance MEC Barbara Creecy to access the R12 billion provincial reserve funds to ensure that educational needs are funded. There should be no child of school going age sitting at home because the department has failed its obligation to provide basic education.

The DA will continue to visit schools to ensure that they have the necessary resources to ensure learning and teaching. Education is the key to redressing the imbalances of the past and to create a better future for the next generation of employable adults. The department must not be allowed to fail our learners.

Under 1% of entire school’s budget spent on maintenance in Gauteng

Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi in response to a DA question revealed that his department spent just under 1% of the department’s entire budget on maintenance and repairs at schools for the 2016/17 financial year (FY).

As of 30 September 2017, over R63 million was spent, which may see the department scrambling to spend more of its maintenance budget before the end of the new FY in March 2018.

This speaks to poor planning and target setting by the department. Since the 2012/13 FY to date, the department has spent just over R2 billion on repairs and maintenance of its assets.

It is disheartening to note that very little was spent on maintenance and repairs despite the many significant infrastructure challenges facing schools in Gauteng.

Click here to view the reply.

This year, in a series of visits to schools across the province to monitor the quality of schooling, the DA exposed the following basic maintenance issues:

  • Slow progress on the construction of additional classrooms;
    • Shattered windows;
    • Leaking roofs;
    • Non-flushing toilets;
    • Blocked drains;
    • No fire extinguishers; and
    • Lack of electricity and water connections at some schools.

The department only reacts to address issues after the DA highlights them which is deeply problematic and shows that the MEC is reactive rather than being proactive.

MEC Lesufi continually fails to execute his mandate of delivering quality education to all our children; he would do well to ensure that the maintenance and repairs budget is spent according to targets set, not hastily arising to issues at schools as they arise.

The DA will continue conducting oversight visits to schools in the province to hold the MEC accountable for the delivery and creation of a conducive learning and teaching environment in our schools.

MEC Lesufi must get the basics right at schools first before cutting ribbons at new state-of-the-art schools and making more empty promises about quality education to communities across the province.

Gauteng Education Department fails to provide sporting facilities to Tlhatlogang Secondary School

Today, I together with Councillor Lucas Kunene conducted an oversight visit to Tlhatlogang Secondary School in Mofolo, Soweto. The purpose of the visit was to assess the state of sporting facilities  after I received complaints from the community regarding the lack of Resources at the school.

I was very shocked to see that the school had no sporting facilities except for two old netball hoops (click here for photo) which are erected on a neglected field. This is despite the fact the school has produced a number of provincial and national sportsmen and women.

A number of learners at the school have competed and excelled at provincial, national and international level in different sporting codes although they have had no access to sporting equipment and fields.

Earlier this year, Tlhatlogang learners managed to compete in, and win a tennis tournament, which gave these learners an opportunity to participate in an international tournament in Australia.

It shows that despite the challenges they face, learners are still participating and excelling in different sporting codes.

One of the reasons is because learners are using community facilities in the area and the school management has also formed partnerships with other schools who have facilities.

I would therefore like to applaud the Pricipal and the School governing body who have not allowed the lack of facilities to impede learners.

However, it is regrettable that the Gauteng Education Department is failing these learners by not providing them with the equipment and facilities they need.

This failure by the provincial education department means many gifted learners are missing out on the opportunity they require to excel in their sporting codes.

I have therefore posed questions to the MEC for Educatin Panyaza Lesufi and MEC for Sports, Arts, Recreation and Culture Molebatsi Bopape asking them to provide plans on how they plan to address the lack of sporting facilities at Tlhatlogang Secondary School.

Media enquiries

Khume Ramulifho, MPL

DA Johannesburg Regional Chairperson

DA Gauteng Caucus Chairperson

DA Gauteng Education Shadow MEC

082 398 7375


DA Gauteng condemns disruptions and vandalism at Braamfischerville Primary school

Lack of Response

The DA condemns the latest disruption and vandalism at Braamfischerville Primary School today where one classroom has been set alight and other facilities damaged. While the community has genuine concerns, the approach must not deny learners the opportunity to learn.

Community members are fed up with the lack of responsiveness from the Gauteng Education Department to build a brick and mortar school, so that all learners have proper schools in Braamfischerville. Some people decided to take this matter in their own hands.

It is unfortunate that violence and vandalism are continually seen as the best methods to get the Provincial Governments attention.

Neglected Communities

The DA believes that the School Governing Body must be empowered to represent the parents in engaging with the department. Destroying school facilities is irresponsible and unacceptable.

The Department of Education has set aside R2.5 billion for school infrastructure. There are currently five schools under construction in Braamfischerville. Earlier this month, the DA conducted site inspections to ascertain whether the projects will be ready for the 2016 academic year.

While it’s important to build new settlements, part of the plan must be to build school infrastructure and health facilities for community members. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Braamfischerville where residents were allocated to the area without the facilities it needs to empower the residents in the community.

The DA will engage with the disgruntled community members to take up their fight with the Gauteng Provincial Government. To ascertain whether there are plans to build a brick and mortar school and the time frame to do so.

Media enquiries:

Khume Ramulifho MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education

082 398 7375

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