Hon Mrs TP Mthethwa MPL,
IFP KZN Spokesperson on Education
School education lies at the heart of an open-opportunity society. At school, learners should obtain the foundation for further education, and for training and preparation for the workplace, and learn to become truthful, responsible and excellent citizens of South Africa.
The continuous failing by the Department of Education to finalise the number of personnel, especially office based posts, is still a burning issue. It is a fact that office based posts are not increasing since 2009. Currently there are not more than 2500 office based posts which are not filled since 2009. The department is still paying 82% of its budget to salaries. These are facts since the department ended up appointing an advocate to trace the money. Remember advocates are paid on an hourly rate.
We wish to acknowledge the increase of the education budget to R42,146 billion.
This will cover most activities in the department if it is well managed. We wish to condemn the departmental expenditure of the amount of R31 892 which was not budgeted for. It is shocking to note that this department spends about R23,6million on renting of offices. This must come into an end.
We urge the MEC of Finance and the Premier not to allocate the money directly to the department of education until they put their house in order. We wish to be informed about the results of the investigation so that we can go out and buy Doom if there are some rats.
The finalisation of disciplinary actions for educators is taking too long, resulting in the department paying for 2 employees in one post. Displaced educators get paid while not working in schools. The failure by the department to audit and control personnel resulted in the department robbing parents and their children of R830m for infrastructure and was used to pay personnel.
The issue of learner transport is of great concern. Both Departments Transport and Education continue to shift the blame to one another when we demand clarity about the issue of scholar transport. Can the MEC tell us how much was spent in this programme and how many learners benefitted? It is disheartening to learn that R10m was not used during the last financial year while many learners are travelling long distances to and from school. Most affected learners are those who reside in rural areas.
We need to have better strategies to help our children without transporting them from rural areas to urban areas. Zabalaza school in Newcastle is closed as learners are transported to Newcastle. Learners leave Ingogo primary school at 4am and come home at 6pm and these include even grade R pupils. Can the MEC consider ad hoc schools where possible, than a one size fits all approach. The IFP is of the view that primary school learners must not use the same transport as the post primary learners because there are bullying activities reported in some areas where learners are transported.
SCHOOL NUTRITION PROGRAMME
This project has tarnished the image of the department. The department has failed dismally to source the right service providers. There are many examples of service providers not being paid on time. It further used inexperienced service providers and there were reports of inadequate meals and even some learners being poisoned. When some of these service providers' contracts were terminated they took the department to court. In most cases the department opted for out of court settlements. In some other places the department has appointed caretaker service providers. What worries the IFP most is the fact that all service providers were granted extensions of their contracts regardless of their poor performance.
When is the department going to terminate the services of IDT and Coega? For how long are the contracts between the department and these entities going to continue? When is the department going to pay all the contractors that were not paid for their services rendered due to the financial constraints in the department? How much is the department losing due to late payments? Ngqongqoshe kumele nisebenze nijeqeza ngoba kulokhu akukho ukucaphuna kwenye indawo bese kuvalwa kwenye. Ngifisa ukwazi Ngqongqoshe ukuthi ngabe iMlokothwa High School neSiyamukela High School eMadadeni zikhona yini ohlelweni lokuthi zakhiwe kulonyaka?
We acknowledge that the number of ECD classrooms will increase. Can we be informed as to how many classrooms are going to be built and where and how much they will cost?
Some officials in the department don't implement decisions taken by the policy makers. This has led to manipulation, nepotism and corruption. Some parents were cheated by the department by electing principals of their choice, instead of listening to the parents' voices, by some officials who submitted minutes with fake signatures of parents. Up to date there are schools who have not appointed their SGB's because certain parents that are on the voters roll are not the ones who the department officials want. The IFP is concerned about the interests of the learners which are not taken care of. Some principals are paid while not working because of the above.
Honourable Speaker, We have seen the phenomenon of bullying taking place, even in the presence of a teacher; just imagine what can happen in classrooms where there are no teachers. Who is going to be held responsible if a learner is badly injured in instances where human resources were not provided for, or where classrooms are so overcrowded because of lack of accommodation, or the school is understaffed? Let us not create an opportunity for learners to get hurt, but rather find ways to have all posts adequately filled sooner rather than later.
Honourable Speaker, the IFP demands, in the interest of accessible quality education, that the MEC for education put attainable and sustainable plans in place to ensure that decision making and management structures are strengthened - even to the extent where there is non-compliance, corrective and punitive measures be introduced without delay.
Honourable Speaker, education is the foundation for opportunities, hence it is the responsibility of the Department of Education to provide a conducive environment that will stimulate our learners to do their best.
Honourable Speaker, we have a multitude of underperforming schools in our Province and yet the Department of Education in the Province fails in its role as the appointing agent of school principals. Too many teachers who are not appropriately qualified, who lack leadership and management skills, are recommended by school governing councils, who unfortunately have been influenced or don't have the capacity to decide over such important matters, to be their preferred candidate for the post of principal.
I believe that it is incumbent upon the Department of Education to defer appointments of principals where these teachers have been elevated without having the necessary skills, experience or expertise.
Principals should be held accountable for poor management, poor discipline and poor educational outcomes. Principals should not be appointed based on their affiliations to a certain teacher union, but on appropriate qualifications and experience.
Some of these newly appointed principals don't even know how to draw up a school timetable or how to allocate work to teachers. If these are the principals the department appoints, then it is a reflection on the department. Do not compromise education by abdicating your responsibilities.
Honourable Speaker, given this department's critical mandate of educating our people, we have to be particularly critical of mediocrity. We cannot allow sub-standard performance to jeopardize the entire nation's chances of a better tomorrow.
I thank you
Mrs Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa,
IFP Spokesperson on Education, 071 884 3844