Immediate steps must be taken by the Eastern Cape Department of Education to accommodate the pupils, especially the matrics, of the Noncedo Public School in Thornpark in East London which was trashed and torched yesterday. The DA also calls for an urgent investigation into this shocking incident. It is of particular concern that the Grade 12 classroom was completely destroyed.

There are rising protests around the country in relation to failed service delivery. This must not be allowed to take root in our Eastern Cape schools. Our education system cannot be further jeopardised by learners taking the law into their own hands and torching their schools.

Last week the DA spokesperson on education, Edmund van Vuuren, requested a special debate on the state of education in the province because of the current crisis. This was turned down by the governing party. This incident confirms our worst fear. The Legislature is getting out of touch with the mounting anger on the ground with regard to the state of education.

Violence and the destroying of valuable assets such as schools cannot be tolerated. The poor current state of education and mounting frustration with the department’s apparent incapability to turn the situation around, may very well spill over to other schools as well.

During my visit to the school this morning it became apparent that there has been a complete breakdown in communication between the pupils and the principal and staff. It is of concern that the department did not act when the trouble started on Monday, when the windows of several classrooms were broken.

Claims were made that the school has been grossly mismanaged. This includes an allegation that money raised by the learners for rugby equipment had been stolen.

I have written the MEC for Education, Mandla Makupula, requesting that:

  1.  A board of inquiry into the incident be established without delay;
  2. Learners be accommodated so that their schooling can be continued;
  3. Rebuilding of the school;
  4. The Department steps in to resolve the issues between the learners and the teachers.

For learners to resort to such volatile behaviour there must be something wrong. The DA believes that education is the passport out of a live of poverty, inequality and unemployment. We must ensure that our children are given the opportunity to better their lives.