DA provincial education spokesperson, Edmund van Vuuren, compiled the follow report after visiting one of the seven mud-schools that are taking the government to court:
On a recent visit to Nomandla Senior Primary School, located in the village of Mabheleni, 20 kilometres of Libode and 30 kilometres to the east of Mthatha, I was consumed with disgust and black anger upon encountering the horrific infrastructural conditions.
Nomandla Senior Primary School is one of seven schools in the impoverished areas of Libode that is taking the government to court for failing to provide them with adequate and secure school buildings. The conditions prevailing at this collapsing school, accommodating numerous scantily clad learners, is testimony of the beleaguered state of the Eastern Cape Department of Education and its lack of industrious officials who are capacitated to serve the needs of the disenfranchised.
It is an inescapable fact that learners’ ambitions and aspirations have been annihilated because of illnesses contracted due to the prevailing unhygienic conditions. There are three unlit mud rondavels and two clay units, smeared with cow dung, attached to the school. The conditions in these dark structures, especially during winter, are unbearable as water constantly seeps through the cracks in the mud walls as well as rain pouring through the thatched roofs.
The school has with the assistance of the community built three brick and mortar classrooms. Funds that were supposed to be used for other educational needs were utilised for the erection of these classrooms. Currently the Grade R-class is accommodated within the community for obvious reasons. When this school appealed to the department for assistance, they were issued with a letter informing them that their request cannot be entertained.
It is completely outrageous and unacceptable that these 323 Grade R to 8 learners and 12 educators are exposed to conditions that prohibit them from receiving or providing quality education. The department should be ashamed of itself for not having prioritised the needs of this school as it does not even appear on the needs register for the 2010/2011 financial year.
It completely boggles my mind as to the reasons for the department of education to prolong the agony of this impoverished community by opposing the charges brought against them.
Was it really necessary for charges to be brought against the department to remind them of their core responsibilities towards the school community?
This case has national significance as it may possibly end up in the Constitutional Court, which in turn will have to define what criteria the State has to meet in order to satisfy the constitutional rights of learners. The department has only R492 million left of its allocated R1,3 billion for infrastructural needs for this financial year. This is a clear indictment of the ineptitude of officials in mismanaging funds that were supposed to be used to build schools, such as in the case of Nomandla Senior Primary School.
The Democratic Alliance underscores the belief that education is the foundation for opportunities, and those responsible for this travesty at Nomandla Senior Primary School, should be held to account.
The Democratic Alliance also believes that if the department of education wants to make an indelible impression and reflect the enduring values of a caring government, it must immediately admit that it has failed these schools in Libode and starts rebuilding proper and secure classrooms without delay.