Speech notes by DA MPL, Edmund van Vuuren – ECPL portfolio committee for Education’s 1st quarterly report

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Premier, protocol observed, I greet you with the understanding that my party, the Democratic Alliance, will do all in its endeavours to assist in improving the quality of life of the poor and destitute.   This we can surely achieve through quality education that is offered by educators with the necessary content knowledge and officials that do not display a “baasskap” attitude, but rather an attitude of being a servant.

Honourable Speaker, it was said that the culture of the Education Department contributes to a very unsafe environment. Even those that want to work; the environment currently existing at the Department of Education doesn’t allow those with the necessary work ethic to flourish. What an indictment for a department that gets the lion’s share of the provincial budget. I sincerely hope that the Honourable MEC for Education is taking note of what is being alluded to and that denialism will not be the order of the day. The Premier has indicated that civil servants need to be servants, and it is incumbent upon the Honourable MEC for Education to see that the wishes of the Premier and the broader society with regard to services are fulfilled.

The environment at the department of education has the resultant factor that the majority of officials do as little as possible, they don’t rock the boat or they don’t even want to be seen. The question that I keep pondering upon is – to what can this laissez-faire work ethic be attributed to, is it political or is it related to management issues. Maybe the Honourable MEC of education can assist us in this matter, as well as what consequence management steps are in place for defiant officials who not do their work.

Honourable Speaker, it is obvious that we have once again repetitive findings with regard to post provisioning norms within our 5554 public ordinary schools. There is an inadequacy of the structure within the Human Resources Section, and a palpable lack of decisiveness. It is no wonder that those teachers studying at universities to improve their qualifications have as yet not received their contracts in order for the bursaries to be paid. Some of these teachers will be unable to graduate because of the ineptness of the Human Resource Development. It is also no wonder that substantive posts are not filled, resulting in a high vacancy rate within our schools.

There is also currently no leadership within the Directorate of Administration, resulting in queries not resolved and causing total frustration. This is a critical position in the administration of the Department of Education, where the post of Director of Administration within the section of Human Resources has not been filled for a very long time. In order for others to be appointed to these critical positions, those that are acting must first remove themselves from their positions. Unfortunately is this is not happening.

No work ethic and culture is so engrained in this section that it is actually very difficult to work in such an environment. This department, considering these allegations, should be locked down and restarted again. There should be a concerted effort and political will to change things around.

The labour interference within this Department of Education in the Eastern Cape is an impediment. The chaos in the department is deliberate because people thrive in a chaotic situation. There is also a perpetual leadership change that does not bode well for continuity and implementation.

There is complete indecisiveness regarding the suspended Superintendent General of Education. This has created a vacuum and has resulted in two civil servants doing the job of the suspended Superintendent General, namely an accounting officer, responsible for everything in the PFMA and an Acting Superintendent General responsible for service and performance related issues. The Democratic Alliance wants to know from the Honourable MEC for Education as to when this issue is going to be resolved, because it also causes disjuncture between Head Office and District Offices.

Honourable Speaker, a group of people were appointed in the infrastructure section of the Department of Education, but all of these technical people left, presuming working for implementing agents, who have contracts with the Department of Education. These technical people have left because of a chaotic environment. It is to be understood that no professional person would want to work in an environment that is not conducive to service delivery.

There is no substantial improvement in service delivery in infrastructure, National School Nutrition programme and Learner Teacher Support Material. There should be consequences for non-performers. There are still teachers involved and stealing from the Nutrition Programme, as was reported in the newspapers.

Honourable Speaker, the issue of information and the credibility thereof and data information has been a problem for the last 10 years and the situation has not changed. How then do we ensure that the information provided by the Department of Education is credible? I believe that the Department should respond to this question.

Honourable Speaker, the records management section is not institutionalized. It is outsourced. Officials within the Department of Education should be held accountable for teacher records, especially employee files. This unit is causing discomfort for not taking charge of the management of records themselves.

Honourable Speaker, it is clear that the Department of Education is not performing at levels as expected, although there are a few directorates that are doing a sterling job. This results in the few people who are doing a good job in the Department getting frustrated.

The lack of Ubuntu is obvious. If the work ethic is not addressed, this Department will lose the few good hardworking officials that try to keep the boat afloat.

Education is the foundation for opportunities. We must never allow those officials that are not committed to destroy the future of our children.

The DA supports the report.

Thank you.

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