North West Legislature Portfolio Committee on Education Lambasts Department for Challenges Found at Schools
North West Provincial Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Education, Sports, Arts, Culture and Traditional Affairs met with the Department of Education to address challenges the Committee had discovered while conducting oversight visits to over 200 schools around the province, including special schools.
The Committee Chairperson, Boitumelo Moiloa said they had discovered, amongst others, challenges of Infrastructure; schools whose roofs were blown-off; Storm damaged school buildings; lack of security at schools: vacant posts and challenges in filling them; employment of Foreign Educators, issues of temporary educators; and National Schools Nutrition Programme.
MEC for the Department of Education and Sports Development, MEC Sello Lehari and the Head of Department (HOD) Dr. Itumeleng Molale including senior management of the department attended the meeting.
Infrastructure Director, Lebogang Tire made a presentation to the Committee on progress made in attending to schools that have been identified in previous reports on school visits.
He also reported on Special Schools, schools affected by the storms and those vandalized or torched during service delivery protests.
Although Moiloa commended the department on progress made in filling of vacant principal posts and progress made in paying outstanding salaries of temporary educators, she stated that she was not happy with the department’s delay in responding and dealing with emergencies at schools.
She also expressed her unhappiness with dire conditions the Committee found at the schools.
“Ablution facilities in most of the schools I visited are in the worst conditions. In Batlhalerwa and Moshosho Primary School the pit toilets are full. In Loselong Primary, the Department of Labour has written a letter that the school must be closed because of the inhumane condition of the ablution facilities.
“There is a school in Bojanala where 3 classrooms were built by the School Governing Body (SGB) without an inspector or engineer, approving the construction. What if that building falls on the learners?” she said.
Moiloa said Area Managers were supposed to be on the ground checking all these things.
The Committee also raised sharply the case of Onkgopotse Tiro Comprehensive School principal, Teach Kgonothi who took the Department to court after admitting and being found guilty of fraud and corruption.
Moiloa said she feels that the department is disregarding and disrespecting the Legislature.
“It saddens me that this Committee tabled this issue in the Legislature House and a Resolution was taken that the settlement agreement between the department and Mr Kgonothi must be implemented.
“The Settlement was not even expelling him after having admitted that he committed fraud and corruption, but it was offering him a post in office, instead he took the department to court,” Moiloa said.
Responding to the issues raised by the Committee, Dr Molale, indicated that the delay in addressing the challenges at schools is caused by budget constraints.
“Our budget gets over stretched due to amongst others, increased storm damages and schools that are torched by communities during service delivery protests. These are not budgeted for but learners have to go to school and therefore the department has no choice but to provide interim resources.
“The department appreciates the Oversight work done by the Committee as it enlightens us to the existing challenges that schools have on the ground,” Molale said.
The department is expected amongst others, to submit the judgement on Mr Kgonothi’s case, including Heads of argument by the department.
A detailed report on Mokasa primary school principal ,allocation of 60 mobile classrooms to prioritised schools; a security report for schools; and a refined National School Nutritional Programme menu that is suitable for the mental and physical health of learners. All reports are expected within 7 working days.