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Parliament, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 – Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education commends the steps by all the stakeholders to ensure the protest in Vuwani, Limpopo, was resolved and for the initiatives to ensure catch-up programmes for all learners.

Acting Committee Chairperson, Ms Pinky Mokoto, said the Committee yesterday had a very fruitful engagement with various role-players involved in the situation in Vuwani. The Committee met with the Department of Basic Education, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the South African Police Service and the Department of Intelligence.

Ms Mokoto said it was clear from the meeting that there is a need for a national response. “All parties agreed this is a critical requirement. This was also recommended by the South African Human Rights Commission in its report that was adopted by this Committee. It is, however, important that there should be a buy-in from the community at large. There should be convergence and a permanent solution.”

Ms Mokoto indicated that the Committee raised the loopholes that currently exist in the Basic Education Laws Act and South African Schools Act. She said the Committee envisioned a calmer situation in this area once amendments to the Demarcation Act, as proposed by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, are finalised. This comes down to doing away with regular changes to demarcation boundaries, something which is currently the main reason for the Vuwani protest.

The Committee, however, expressed its concern regarding the Integrated Development Plans of some of the stakeholders that do not clearly speak to provisions that would lead to a lasting solution on this matter. “The Committee remains concerned that communities target schools, which they see as soft targets. Communities know that there is a high possibility that it will revoke a response from the authorities if they target schools,” said Ms Mokoto.

The Committee said it will continue to work with and play an oversight role on the Inter-Ministerial Task Team to ensure all matters are resolved. The Committee is awaiting the report from the Department of Basic Education on safety in schools to ascertain their (schools’) needs in this regard.

“The Committee commends the catch-up plan by the Limpopo Department of Education. The department assured the Committee that at the start of the recent process they had already finalised the curriculum in schools in the area. However, various initiatives have been implemented like extra classes on Saturdays and the Spring school. The Committee was assured that the matrics will be able to sit for final exams which commence later this month and that trial or mock exams that they missed out on during the protest, will be written.”

Ms Mokoto said the Committee will continue to monitor all the initiatives and plans.

ISSUED BY PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE ACTING CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON BASIC EDUCATION, MS PINKY MOKOTO.

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