DAMNING EDUCATION REPORT GREETED WITH SHOCK BY EXPERTS: WEEKEND POST

DA MPL Edmund van Vuuren said many pupils still of school-going age “simply disappeared from the system and no efforts were made to establish their whereabouts”.

A DAMNING new report has sparked warnings by experts that the extent of internal decay could be a final nail in the coffin for Eastern Cape education.

“The province is creating uneducated mobs and we know that they can become dangerous.

“We don’t need a repeat of 1976,” education expert Dr Ken Alston said.

The report was compiled by the Bhisho Legislature’s education committee and tabled this week, following school visits.

The committee found teaching did not start on time at about 25% of more than 100 schools because textbooks and stationery had not been delivered.

About 90% of the schools also had a shortage of furniture.

The report revealed there was still a “dire shortage” of classrooms and overcrowding in some schools, making it difficult for learning and teaching.

The committee expressed “alarm” at the high drop-out rate at schools and the high rate of absenteeism by both pupils and teachers.

“I’m horrified about this, but not surprised,” Alston said.

“How can we expect our children to learn and write when they have to sit on the floor?”

Of the high drop-out rate, he said: “What can you expect? They are not getting anything at school, so why stay? Absenteeism is also a major problem.”

Veteran educational analyst Graeme Bloch said the drop-out rate before matric was above 50%. “You can’t blame the kids,” he added. DA MPL Edmund van Vuuren said many pupils still of school-going age “simply disappeared from the system and no efforts were made to establish their whereabouts”.

A major problem confronting schools was that they accepted pupils who were over-age.

“Most pupils do not attend schools on social grant pay days. Another challenge is drug and alcohol abuse by pupils and teachers, resulting in truancy.

“Some teachers have been sent to rehabilitation centres but there is no overall improvement,” Van Vuuren said

Another alarming issue raised in the report was evidence of “a syndicate and collaboration between contractors who won tenders, consultants, and some departmental officials in determining pricing”.

The committee also found “teachers at some schools – especially former Model C schools – did not reflect the demographics” of pupils.

“The key here is one should rather focus on quality education than worry about demographics.

“Some teachers have been at these schools long before the demographics changed,” said Alston.

The committee said an allowance to limit the high exodus of teachers in rural areas should be introduced.

Overall, Alston and Bloch said the issues raised were symptomatic of chaos and long-standing problems.

The provincial department needed a “major clean-up” to save it from complete collapse, they said.

Van Vuuren questioned the point of visiting schools when reports such as these would ultimately gather dust.

Education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani was not available for comment.