ANC Gauteng block motions on load-shedding, schools and bullying in LGBTQIA+ communities

The Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) cares little about ensuring that our residents receive the service delivery they deserve, while their rights are not protected.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng tabled several motions over the last six months to ensure residents live a quality of life and are protected from bullying and discrimination.

During the last six months, the DA tabled a motion to debate the role of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in improving access to electricity for all Gauteng residents. While Eskom is failing to provide a reliable supply of electricity, residents are again battling stage six loadshedding.

All political parties should be able to provide input and guidance where this government is failing to do so. The ANC, through its majority, rejected the motion in their desire to block accountability for the GPG.

A motion was also submitted to the GPL to end rotational learning at some schools in the province. During our many oversight inspections, we discovered that many schools use the rotational learning system. Furthermore, the disruption to the education system due to the Covid-19 pandemic has put many learners at a disadvantage. Therefore, measures need to be put in place to ensure that all learners are given a chance to catch up on the work that was missed during the pandemic.

The LGBTQIA+ community continues to suffer at the hands of bullies and bigots, not only in their homes but also in schools and the workplace.

The LGBTQIA+ community has been calling on this government to intervene through sensitivity training and educational programmes, proposals which have been disregarded. It was for that reason that the DA brought a motion to establish a sub-committee on LGBTQIA+ to deal with the issues of discrimination and treatment in this community.

Only as recently as October, a grade six learner committed suicide because of alleged bullying by a teacher because of his sexual orientation.

All these motions brought by the DA, which would ensure proper service delivery and protect everyone’s human rights, were turned down by the GPL. It is unacceptable that residents still don’t have a reliable supply of electricity, water, quality education, and a safe environment free of discrimination.

As the DA, we will continue to fight for the rights and services of all residents, as enshrined in our Constitution of 1996.

Hoërskool Die Burger’s learners’ safety at risk as a homeless family has invaded the classrooms

A homeless family of six adults and one infant has invaded the premises of Hoërskool Die Burger in Bergbron, Roodepoort. They have been occupying three classrooms for almost two years and pose a serious safety risk for both learners and teachers as well as the integrity of the school premises and equipment.

This homeless family is also sharing ablution facilities with learners, putting the lives of innocent learners under threat. One of the males was allegedly caught stealing at the science laboratory, he was arrested, and he is out on bail and still residing at the school premises. In addition, the school has had numerous burglaries since this homeless family invaded their premises.

This is unacceptable as a school is supposed to be a safe place for learners, not a place to harbour homeless people.

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) conducted an oversight inspection at the school and were disappointed with the state of the infrastructure and the school environment in general. The school is old and is turning 120 years this year; the infrastructure is ageing and is in dire need of proper regular maintenance.

The classroom windows and doors are broken; the school hall ceiling was damaged last year in March and has not yet been fixed. The wooden tiles in the school hall are broken, seven classrooms are not being used because the roof is leaking, and the structure is cracking.

The school environment is not conducive for learning and teaching as there is litter all over the school and the grass is overgrown.

Furthermore, there is a serious challenge of ill-discipline, drugs and bullying among the learners. Some learners are selling drugs at the school; learners are scared to report them as they fear being targeted. There were some learners who were sitting under a tree during the school hours, and we were informed that learners are disrespectful towards their teachers. They do not take instructions from teachers, they do whatever they want and do not adhere to the school code of conduct.

The school lacks leadership as there is no permanent principal, instead there are acting principals on a rotational basis.

The DA demands that the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi must intervene as a matter of urgency to evict the homeless family that has invaded the school and secure the school premises to ensure the safety and security of our children and resources. MEC Lesufi must prioritise fixing this school’s infrastructure and appoint a permanent principal.

MEC Lesufi must engage with the Department of Social Development to ensure that this homeless family is relocated to one of the homeless shelters across the province. The Department of Social Development must engage with local NGOs to house this family in the meantime while looking for a permanent solution.

We also urge the School Governing Body (SGB) and the parents to take ownership of the school and engage their children about acceptable behaviour at school.

The DA believes that schools are precious resources, and the future of the next generation requires the assistance of all stakeholders. We will be tabling questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to ascertain when the last time was the department conducted maintenance at this school ,how much is the maintenance budget for this school, when will the school be fixed, when will the principal vacancy be filled and what action will be taken against the homeless family that have invaded the school premises. Based on the replies that we will receive from the MEC we will conduct a follow-up oversight inspection to assess the progress and ensure that we hold the MEC accountable to fix our school’s infrastructure.

MEC Lesufi’s failure to fix ageing infrastructure denies learners access to a conducive learning environment

A block of 10 classrooms at Sekampaneng Primary School in Temba, Hammanskraal are not in use as one classroom has collapsed on Monday while others are in a waterlogged area. While some of the classroom’s walls have cracks and pose a safety risk for both learners and teachers, leaving the school in a dire state.

This school, which was built by the community, is old and dilapidated and was built in a waterlogged area that has resulted in the collapse of some classrooms.

Photos can be accessed here_ here _ here _

The school has over 2400 learners; the classrooms are severely overcrowded and not conducive for learning and teaching. It is unacceptable as our learners are being denied the dignity of learning in an adequate environment.

This situation has arisen because of the department’s failure to fix our school infrastructure and to conduct regular oversight and monitoring of our schools.

The DA demands that the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi must provide the school with temporary mobile classrooms to ensure that learning and teaching continue in a conducive environment without any disruptions.

We further advise the MEC to conduct soil testing at this school to ensure that temporary mobile classrooms are in an area that is not saturated with water.

It is the responsibility of the department to eradicate all the ageing infrastructure and ensure that our schools have adequate classrooms, learning materials and equipment.

 

The DA is urging MEC Lesufi to attend to this matter urgently as learners are already denied access to quality basic education due to rotational learning and teaching system.

All parents need urgent certainty about the placing of their children in schools

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is urging Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi to ensure that all learners are placed before schools open on Wednesday.

It is extremely regrettable that parents are not sure whether their children will be placed, so they are unable to buy uniforms, arrange transport where needed and buy stationery.

The DA believes that there should be no child of school-going age who have to stay at home because there is no space available.

The DA will be proposing to the MEC for Education that online admission for grade 1 and 8 be opened before May and be concluded before September this year.

This will ensure that schools with high demand are identified and are allocated more resources before the new academic year.

Furthermore, this will also avoid last minute interventions where resources are allocated in January and February while learners are losing out on valuable teaching and learning time.

The past two years have been characterised by disruptions due to COVID-19 and therefore the department must move with speed to ensure that learners can cover the lost learning and teaching time.

The lack of communication is causing anxiety and frustration amongst parents who applied on time but are still uncertain as to whether their children have a space or not. The department must place all children before Wednesday.

2021 academic year school application deadline close today, parents must apply to secure their children’s placement

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is urging all parents and guardians to submit their child’s online application to secure their placement for the 2022 academic year before the end of today to ensure that they do not miss a day of schooling when the new academic year begins.

Today, Friday, 8th October is the deadline for the GDE phase 2 of the online admission application for Grade 1 and 8 for the 2022 academic year.

We urge parents not to miss this last opportunity but use it to apply and chose their preferred school for their children. Parents who are facing difficulties with their applications and those who do not have internet access should go to their nearest Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) regional office to seek assistance.

Failure to apply on time by parents in the past has had a huge negative impact on the future of the children, where many learners across the province have missed months of schooling due to late applications waiting to be allocated to a school. This has also resulted in learners being placed in schools that have not been chosen by their parents. In most cases, parents choose schools based on their home language, but the child ends up being placed in a school that does not offer their home language which affects their academic progress.

The DA will continue to monitor the processing of the online applications to ensure that all parents who applied on time receive SMS notifications about placement offers. Those who will not receive the SMS notifications should report the matter to their nearest GDE regional offices for clarifications. We will ensure that children who applied on time are prioritized, and we will not allow our children to suffer and be denied access to education because of the department’s incompetency.

Parents must apply for online admission to secure their child’s Grade 8 school placement before the closing date

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is urging all parents and guardians to apply for their child’s school placement before the closing date on Friday, 3 September to ensure that no Grade 8 learner misses a day of schooling when the new 2022 academic year begins.

Based on previous experience, delays in applying for online admission has had a huge negative impact on the future of our children in that many learners across the province have missed months of schooling. This has also resulted in learners being placed in schools that have not been chosen by their parents.

The first phase of Gauteng online admission for Grade 8 only was opened on 10 August and will close on 3 September. The second phase for Grade 1 will open on 13 September and close on 8 October. The learners’ placement of phase one will happen between 15 October and 30 November, while phase two will be between 15 and 20 November.

We urge parents and guardians not to miss this opportunity but to use it to apply for their Grade 8 children before the closing date which is on Friday. Parents who are also facing difficulties with their applications and those who do not have internet access should go to their nearest Gauteng Department of Education regional office.

The DA will continue to monitor the online admission process to ensure that there are no glitches in the system and that all parents and guardians who applied on time are prioritised.

We will not allow a repeat of previous years where children who applied on time are denied access to basic education on the first day of the new academic year because of the department’s failure to ensure the placement of all learners.

Local Government Elections are coming up! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status. 

Learners left without critical education resources as over R2 million lost in burglaries, vandalism and theft in Gauteng

School children in Gauteng are being left without critical educational resources as schools have lost over R2 million due to vandalism, burglaries and theft leaving our children. The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is shocked to learn that 1 231 cases have been opened by Gauteng schools since 2020 to date.

It is concerning that the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) continues to lose millions in theft, burglaries, and vandalism of schools while not much is being done to safeguard assets. GDE and the Department of Community Safety have dismally failed to prevent such incidents of vandalism, theft, and burglaries in our schools.

This information was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko, in a written reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

According to MEC Mazibuko, the schools in Gauteng have opened 1 231 cases of vandalism, theft, and burglaries.

Of these cases reported, 300 suspects were arrested in 147 cases and only 34 cases resulted in the conviction of 37 accused persons.

It is very worrying that there are low arrest and conviction rates despite the high number of cases reported.

This means that no arrests were made in 1 084 cases and 1 197 cases did not make it to the court row.

The department’s school’s safety strategy is ineffective, and it is evident through the number of cases reported. This is a clear indication that the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) is also failing to prioritise school safety with adequate police visibility.

Furthermore, the department has lost R2 225 611.00 on these incidents of vandalism, theft, and burglaries in our schools. This money could be used to eradicate asbestos schools and fix deteriorating infrastructure across the province to ensure a conducive learning and safe teaching environment. 

Untrained and unarmed school safety patrollers alone will not be able to safeguard our valuable school’s assets. There is a need for community members to take ownership of the schools and for the department to explore the feasibility of employing permanent security guards to safeguard schools, particularly in areas that have a high crime rate.

In addition, DA proposals such as the installation of fences or walls surrounding schools, installation of CCTV cameras and alarm systems in hotspot schools linked to the nearest police stations would make a profound difference in preventing such incidents from happening again.

MEC Mazibuko must also liaise with the Gauteng SAPS Commissioner, Lieutenant General, Elias Mawela to provide an update with regards to the SAPS intelligence unit investigating the syndicates that are involved in vandalism, theft and burglary of our schools so that the perpetrators can be apprehended and there is a stop to this criminal element.

Schools are precious resources and harming a school is harming the future of our children and the future of their generation.

Local Government Elections are coming up! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

SIU preliminary report: MEC Lesufi must make it public to ensure justice for children still learning in asbestos schools

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes that the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) MEC, Panyaza Lesufi has received the Special Investigative Unit’s (SIU) preliminary report on decontamination of Gauteng schools and demands that it must be made public to ensure transparency and accountability in dealing with identified and implicated officials.

The GDE wasted more than R431 million on decontamination of schools within three months. This money could have been used to eradicate asbestos schools, and build more classrooms to reduce overcrowding.  On a daily basis, so many children are having their health put at risk with the exposure to asbestos.  Classroom overcrowding is also not conducive during Covid-19. If this money was spent appropriately, it would have ensured that learners are taught in a conducive learning environment where their educational development could be nurtured.

This information was revealed by the department during the Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s (GPL) Education Portfolio Committee meeting.

According to the department’s presentation, MEC Lesufi has received a preliminary report from the SIU with specific recommendations for the HOD to implement. The report has also been provided to the HOD for his consideration and action.

The recommendations include the institution of disciplinary processes against officials in the department in line with the Public Service Act and Public Service Regulations. The department is required to appoint an external legal practitioner or firm to review the report, formulate the charges and initiate them on behalf of the department. The department is also required to appoint an independent legal practitioner as the presiding officer of the disciplinary hearing.

In response to the recommendations, the HOD has considered the recommendations and has appointed an external legal team to evaluate the findings and supporting evidence, and to formulate charges against the identified officials. The HOD is currently awaiting legal advice on the recommendations, charges, and quality of evidence.

The DA welcomes the SIU’s preliminary report, and the progress made so far and believes that this is a step in the right direction to ensure that the department recovers all monies meant to ensure that our children receive quality education and are taught in a conducive environment.

We demand that MEC Lesufi must make this report public for transparency and accountability to the people of Gauteng who want to know what happened, and the role played by the implicated officials during this process. This will ensure that those implicated are dealt with accordingly and that absolutely nothing is swept under the carpet, with the monies are recovered. This will also set an example to all the government officials across all Gauteng departments that failure to adhere to the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury regulations will result in severe consequence management being implemented.

The DA will continue put pressure on MEC Lesufi to make this report public and to monitor the progress of implementation of the SIU preliminary report recommendations to ensure that those who are implicated are brought to book and they pay back every cent owed to the education of our children.

Local Government Elections are coming up! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Learners denied access to everyday schooling as GDE fails to prepare for the return of all primary school grades

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is very concerned that all primary school grades across the province will not be able to return to school this week as the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) has failed to prepare the necessary resources for these schools.

This is unacceptable, as learners will continue to miss out on the much-needed every day schooling, as the current system of rotational learning that was adopted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is ineffective and simply not enough, with learners having fallen behind in the curriculum.

By so doing, the department is denying primary school learners their right to access basic education.

This is further widening the inequality gap as learners from no fee-paying schools are highly affected while private schools are progressing with daily schooling.

Furthermore, the fee-paying schools have access to adequate resources such as online learning and teaching options to continue with schoolwork, while learners from no-fee schools sit at home and wait for their allocated school day.

The department is aware that many schools had challenges of overcrowded classrooms of more than 50 learners per class, yet they failed to plan in terms of resources allocation to ensure that additional classrooms and teachers are provided to meet the required health protocols to maintain social distance.

The DA calls on the department to reprioritise resources and ensure that all primary school learners return to school so that learning and teaching can take place in a conducive environment.

Department senior officials were quick to feast R431 million on decontamination of schools but very slow to provide additional resources to assist schools to catch up on lost time to cover the curriculum. We will continue to hold GDE MEC, Panyaza Lesufi accountable for failure to provide school resources. The future of our children will not suffer due to the department’s incompetency and failure to reprioritise resources accordingly.

Local Government Elections are coming up! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Guarantee uninterrupted learner access to schooling by ensuring online admission system is used to plan allocation of school resources

To ensure that no education-deserving child is denied access to schooling, with no disruptions to teaching and learning due to shortages of resources, the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) MEC, Panyaza Lesufi must use the online application system to adequately plan the allocation of resources and budget for schools before the start of the 2022 academic year.

The department has constantly failed to place learners in schools on time, and to provide adequate resources such as additional classrooms as well as teachers to schools that are experiencing high demand of admission. This has resulted in learners at such schools being taught inside school halls and overcrowded classrooms where the environment is not conducive for learning and teaching.

In May this year, there were still learners in the province who have not yet been placed in schools since the beginning of the academic year. Many of their parents claim that they applied on time, yet their children had still not been placed. These learners continue to miss out on schooling while other learners are progressing with the curriculum. How is a child now expected to catch up with such an unnecessary delay in their education?

The DA welcomes the opening of the online admission; however, we have been calling on the department to open it as early as April to ensure that all learners who applied on time are placed by the end of October.

By so doing, this ensures that no learner misses a day of schooling when the new 2022 academic year begins and there is no repeat of what has been happening in previous years.

It would also enable parents to choose where their children are placed, to budget for school uniforms and arrange for scholar transport while there is still time.

The DA urges parents and guardians to start applying for their children immediately, and not to wait for the last minute, while those who do not have internet access should go to their nearest designated centre to be assisted with the online application.

We also call on the department to regularly communicate with parents or guardians by informing them whether their child or children have been placed to a school to avoid incidents of the past two years where parents applied but did not receive any feedback from the department. The department should also regularly monitor the system to ensure that the manipulation of the system by school principals and district officials is eliminated.

Furthermore, we will continue to monitor the online admission process to ensure that the system is transparent and all parents who applied on time are prioritised, and their children are allocated schools. We will also be regularly engaging with the department when parents raise issues with us with regards to the online admission process to ensure that there are immediate interventions.

Local Government Elections are coming up! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.