Parliament, Thursday, 4 February 2021 – The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has urged the KwaZulu-Natal’s Department of Education to find solutions to the perennial infrastructure challenges in the province to ensure conducive environment for teaching and learning.
The committee visited schools in the Harry Gwala district and raised concerns over the existence of mud schools in the district. “The committee visited two schools with classrooms that were destroyed by storms, a problem that adds to red tape challenges school face as they wait for procurement processes to repair schools. The committee is also of the view that the process of the eradication of mud schools must be expedited,” said Ms Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, the Chairperson.
While the committee acknowledges the provision of mobile units as a temporary intervention by the provincial department, it told the department that the units are expensive and their use is for a transitory period. Furthermore, it called on the provincial department to replace them with longer term and proper structures.
Vandalism of school infrastructure is also a serious concern for the committee as it exacerbates the slow development of new school infrastructure, and as the money budgeted for infrastructure is redirected towards maintenance of old schools. “Schools are community assets that are essential for the development of those communities and must be taken care of. The committee has encouraged schools to strengthen their relations with stakeholders such as police, community policing forums, councillors and the community at large to find practical and workable solutions to the challenge of vandalism,” Ms Mbinqo-Gigaba emphasised.
The committee has urged the department to standardise school typology in the Harry Gwala District as there are schools in that district that end at grade 9. While this will require funding to ensure that schools have enough classrooms, the committee said, separation of primary and high schools will ensure standardisation with other provinces.
The challenge of technical subjects, especially technical mathematics and technical science, which is common in the province, must be addressed especially in the context of the move towards technical subjects. “The sector must find solutions to declining results in technical mathematics and technical science and must provide teachers responsible for those subjects with necessary and required resources,” Ms Mbinqo-Gigaba said.
The committee has also raised concerns regarding contradiction between the information provided by the provincial department and what is actually happening on the ground in relation to the payment of Basic Education Employment Initiative (EEI) candidates.
It has committed itself to engaging with the provincial department of education with the purpose of resolving problems in areas where there is non-payment of EEI candidates.
The committee welcomed the report from schools that they have received their PPE and Learner Teachers Support Material and the fact that they are generally ready to start with teaching and learning on the first day at school. It has also welcomed the plan of collection of textbooks and stationary by learners at schools before the first-day, as that will inevitably going to avoid chaos and unnecessary inconvenience.
The committee will today visit the Eastern Cape province to assess readiness of schools in the province for the 2021 academic year.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON BASIC EDUCATION, MS BONGIWE MBINQO-GIGABA.
For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact the committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Malatswa Molepo (Mr)
Parliamentary Communication Services
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