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.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is concerned that the Gauteng Department of Education is failing to prioritise the eradication of asbestos schools in the province.
The department is failing to honour its commitment to eradicate asbestos schools and replace them with brick and mortar structures.
According to the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, the department intends replacing 26 asbestos schools within the next 5 years. MEC Lesufi was responding to the DA’s written questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.
Of the 26 targeted asbestos schools, only three schools are under construction which are Noordgesig Primary School, Faresani Primary School and Rust-Ter- Vaal Secondary School while three schools are still out to tender. The other 20 identified asbestos schools are still in the planning phase.
There are also 257 schools in the province that still have partial asbestos structures and the department does not have a plan as to when they will be eradicated.
The fact that the department has not yet prioritised all schools with partial asbestos structures indicates that they are not serious about eradicating asbestos schools in the province.
It is grossly negligent of the department not to fast-track the process of replacing all partial asbestos schools.
These schools continue to pose a health and safety risk to both learners and teachers.
The department does not have financial challenges as they failed to spend almost R1 billion in the 2018/19 financial year, yet it lacks the ability to manage its finances and to prioritise infrastructure needs.
It is unacceptable that the budget gets returned to the Treasury while the demand to fix infrastructure remains high.
The DA will continue to monitor progress in terms of the replacement of the asbestos schools with brick and mortar structures to ensure that all 26 asbestos schools are replaced within the next 5 years.
Despite the Gauteng Department of Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi’s commitment to place all grade 1 and 8 learners in schools before end of last year, many learners are still unsure about their schooling for 2018.
The DA is concerned about the number of Gauteng learners who have not yet secured school placement, including those who had applied online.
Parents are frustrated and uncertain as to whether their children are going to be placed in schools for this academic year; they aren’t sure if they must buy school uniforms as they have received no confirmation from the department.
The department’s online application process which opened on May 2017 and closed in November 2017, should have given the department ample opportunity to plan and allocate the required resources.
We supported the online registration process in the hope that it would create certainty before school holidays, and alleviate the pressure placed on both schools and parents.
Failure to ensure the timeous placing of any grade 1 and 8 learners will have a traumatic effect on such learners, which could negatively impact on their educational outcomes.
The DA will write to MEC Lesufi to get confirmation on whether all learners will be placed before start of the 2018 academic year.
Learning and teaching must start on day one of schooling next week.
The trend of the past few years of placing learners in schools at the end of February must come to an end.
The department must strike a balance between schools facing high enrolment demand and those schools which are standing empty.
The DA will request the Gauteng Provincial Legislature Education Portfolio Committee to interrogate the online registration process to determine the reason for delays, identify schools with high demand and how to improve the system going forward.
Food Poisoning and Racism
The DA welcomes findings by the Gauteng Education Department into the Emma Primary School food poisoning incident and racism at the Curro Primary School.
So too do we appreciate MEC Panyaza Lesufi relaying the findings of the food poisoning and convey our sympathies with the parents who have lost their children. We further call on the South African Police Service to investigate the alleged intentional food poisoning by one of the learner’s grandmothers.
We further note the remedial steps taken by Education MEC Panyaza and his strong condemnation against racism at the Curro School, Pretoria which the management admitted received pressure from white parents to separate learners based on their cultural backgrounds.
It is shameful that after 21 years of a democracy racism continues to plague our society.
The Heartbeat of our Democracy
We live in a culturally diverse society and wholly inclusive society, with people of different cultures, races and socio-economic backgrounds.
Diversity is the heartbeat of our democracy and the DA calls on parents across our province to foster a sense of unity in diversity among our children, and build a society of freedom, fairness and opportunity.
Khume Ramulifho, MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education
082 398 7375
Gauteng Legislature Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe
The DA will today write to the Gauteng Legislature Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe asking her to investigate whether education MEC Panyaza Lesufi deliberately misled the DA in written responses to parliamentary questions.
During an oversight visit to Evaton West Primary School in January, the DA found the school to be operating without electricity, as it was not connected to the local power grid.
The DA submitted written questions over the matter to MEC Lesufi, who replied that admission pressures caused the department to open the school without it being connected to the municipal grid.
Click here to view the response.
Misleading Responses + Verifying Facts
The response further states that the necessary steps had been taken to have the school connected, and that it would have complete by the end of March 2015.
However, the DA last Friday visited Evaton West Primary to verify the facts, and found that the school is not connected to the grid.
The DA in the Gauteng Legislature has a constitutional mandate to conduct oversight over government’s delivery programme, and the MEC is responsible to provide factual and accurate responses to questions posed.
By providing misleading information, MEC Lesufi hides the true state of affairs to the DA and the parents and learners of Evaton West Primary.
Investigate Authenticty, Speaker
The DA will therefore request Speaker Mekgwe to investigate the authenticity of MEC Lesufi’s response, and if needs be, refer the matter to the Legislature’s Privileges and Ethics Committee for further investigation.
The DA will not idly sit by and allow Premier David Makhura and members of his executive to ride roughshod over our democratic order.
Kingsol Chabalala MPL
DA Gauteng Constituency Head – Evaton
060 558 8299
Public Access to Information Act (PAIA)
The DA is highly concerned over the Gauteng Education Department’s continued refusal to fully disclose forensic reports into financial irregularities at 159 schools in the province.
Two months ago the DA launched an application in terms of the Public Access to Information Act (PAIA) requesting the reports which MEC Lesufi has been refusing to make public for months.
The department’s refusal to release the report is on the basis of protecting the identity of third parties is concerning.
Fraud, Corruption and Whistle-blowers
While the DA appreciates the department’s concern for whistle-blowers, we maintain that it is in the public interest, especially those of parents and teachers at affected schools, to study the contents of these reports.
Fraud and corruption, if left unchecked, will have a severe impact on the quality of life and education of our province’s youth, and parents have the right to make informed choices about where their children should be educated.
By refusing to divulge the contents of forensic reports into fraud and corruption for spurious reasons, the department opens itself to criticism and the public perception that it is not serious about fraud and corruption in our schools.
To this end, the DA will appeal the department’s interest, noting that the public interest overrides the department’s concerns – and that all names of confidential informants be removed from the reports and to disclose the reports to us.
The DA will continue to fight for transparency and will go to every length to expose wrongdoing in Gauteng’s schools.
Khume Ramulifho, MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education
082 398 7375
The failed merger of the Megatong and Sediba-Thuto primary schools in Soweto needs to be urgently addressed.
Megatong was meant to be merged with Sediba-Thuto in 2008 and then shut down as a legal entity. However, parents alleged the merger was forced and resorted to protests to oppose it.
According to investigations by Harris Nupen Molebatsi Attorneys, the district office allowed the schools to be run as two separate entities.
Of further concern is that Department of Education records indicate that Megatong Primary received an annual budget allocation until the end of 2011, despite the fact that it was supposedly merged with Sediba-Thuto in 2008.
Poor leadership, lack of public consultation on the part of the Education Department and opposition to the merger has caused the poor education of Megatong’s learners.
The school has two teachers for 123 pupils, forcing it to combine grade 1 and 2 as well as grade 4 and 5 classes into single classes.
The school has no electricity, no budget for operating costs, and outstanding teacher salaries backdating to April 2014.
Quality education is critical to develop the young people of Gauteng, but this can only happen through consultative decisions between the Education Department, schools, parents and school governing bodies.
Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi needs to pay urgent attention to this failed merger, and address the lack of resources and teacher salaries at Megatong.
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education
082 398 7375