PUPILS STILL AT RISK IN ‘DEATH TRAP’ SCHOOLS: THE NEW AGE

What’s wrong with the department of education? This institution never ceases to amaze. This time it has reneged on a court agreement in which it was a signatory to provide mobile classrooms, water tanks and school furniture at seven mud schools in Libode by March 31.

In a court agreement entered into between the department and the Centre for Child Law, it was agreed that the department would improve learning conditions at these schools by the end of last month. However, a visit by a DA team last Wednesday revealed that no work had been done at any of the schools.

Now DA provincial education spokesperson and MPL Edmund van Vuuren wants the agreement changed to a court order, which would compel the department to act.

“The DA is saddened and immensely disappointed by this reneging on the settlement agreement between the two parties. We now urge the parties concerned to go back to court and change the agreement to a court order.

“There is no way government can be allowed to violate pupils’ rights in such a disrespectful manner. When we visited the schools last week, we expected to see a hive of activity but to our surprise we were met with a glaring absence of any contractors on the agreed sites,” said Van Vuuren, who was accompanied by DA deputy education shadow minister, Donald Smiles.

Provincial education spokesperson Loyiso Phulumani said yesterday, “They started putting up the concrete platforms on which the mobile classes rest last week already, so contractors are busy erecting temporary structures.”

But this was disputed by Van Vuuren, who said he would approach education MEC Mandla Makupula to intervene immediately.

“It is now time for the department to take unpopular political decisions and confront those officials responsible for this unacceptable state of affairs in order to restore efficiency and effectiveness that will translate into the delivery of quality education,” said Van Vuuren.

Local government was allocated about R6bn to eradicate all mud schools in the province after the education department was dragged to court by the schools and civic organisations, forcing it to eradicate such schools, which were death traps to pupils.