Presentation of Report of Portfolio Committee on Education

Taking legislature to the People

Elliotdale, Amathole District Municipality
16 October 2018

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Premier, All MEC’s present here today, my colleagues, the Honourable MPL’s, Education Departmental Officials, dignitaries, visitors, activists of all political parties and the residents of Elliotdale and the broader community. I humbly greet you.

Honourable Speaker, the Democratic Alliance welcomes this comprehensive report compiled and adopted by the multiparty Education Portfolio Committee and also supports it unreservedly.

Honourable Speaker, during our oversight visits to this area and municipality we, as legislators were once again exposed to the realities that many learners in our province face on a daily basis when attending school. It saddened me deeply.

Madam Speaker, it is unthinkable that our children are still attending school in mud structures which should have been eradicated years ago, as promised by the present Government. . In 2018, almost 25 years into our democracy, our children are still exposed to dangerous and non-conducive learning environments.

Madam Speaker, as a committee we witnessed the crumbling school infrastructure, and in some cases completely dilapidated buildings, we have seen unhealthy and unhygienic ablution facilities. In some instances, where there were no ablution facilities, learners, both male and female, relieve themselves in the bushes. This is not right and the children of Amathole East District deserve so much more.

As Legislators, we cannot condone these inhumane deeds where the dignity of our learners are impaired and their human right infringed.

Madam Speaker, we understand that the Department of Education is under pressure with regards to delivering infrastructure within a limited budget. We, however, encourage the Department of Education to continue tirelessly in providing better infrastructure for the sake of our children.

There are too many delays and stoppages of school infrastructure projects resulting in unnecessary wasteful expenditure, money which could have been used to provide Amathole East District with much better infrastructure.

Madam Speaker, we just cannot allow our learners in Amathole East District to continue to attend schools where roofs are collapsing, where there are gaping holes in the classroom floors, and year after year after year our children must defy all odds to be taught under such life threatening conditions.

When children attend school, they must feel excited, invigorated and encouraged, that when they leave school they have mastered their challenges, they are success driven and well-schooled, ready to take on the world. Unfortunately, many of our learners, because of the system, leave school discontented.

These workforces are exposed to conditions that are less than favourable and are placed under immense pressure to succeed.

Many of these schools are understaffed and many of the teachers do not receive a rural allowance, even if this whole area is a deep rural are. Teachers are also teaching in classes with more than 100 learners and some of the teachers as a result of the high vacancy rate, are forced to teach subjects that they are not qualified to teach, and still they do this day after day, although at the detriment of those that they are teaching.

To these educators who perform duties that are not within their competencies and the support staff, I want to say thank you for what your sacrifice, albeit under very, very difficult circumstances. On behalf of the Democratic Alliance, I salute and thank you.

Teachers, parents, learners and the community in general, you cannot accept the current conditions in education within your local areas as being the norm. Your situation pales in comparison to what other learners are exposed to.

Madam Speaker, it is clear to the naked eye that we have a two tier education system that is geographically based, namely a system for the forgotten ones in the rural areas and another system for urban areas, despite protestation to the contrary by those in the Bureaucratic seats.

The Democratic Alliance is a proponent for a One South Africa for all where there is a fair education system for all, where opportunities are availed to all the learners and where favourable conditions are created by Government and where appropriate, adequate and necessary tools are provided on order for those in education to enhance their abilities to prosper within the system.

Let me qualify as to what I have alluded to:
Most of the learners in this area must walk long distances to get to a school. Their lives being compromised, totally exhausted hungry and still expected to be awake in a classroom and perform their scholastic responsibilities.

This for us as the Democratic Alliance is totally unacceptable and should not be condoned. On top of the mental and the physical effects being endured by these long distance walking learners, there is also a further financial burden being placed on our indigent parents as these learners’ tyres, yes their school shoes, have to be replaced and repaired more frequently than those in urban areas.

Yes, it hurts me deeply that our rural child is being driven away further from opportunities that those in urban areas.

Our rural child should be given the freedom to use available opportunities in order to determine their destiny, and as Government, you should be biased in expediting opportunities towards the forgotten and less fortunate in the rural areas, such as Amathole East District.

Are learners in Amathole East District exposed to conducive circumstance as experienced by other learners in Urban areas.
For example
(1) Is there a teacher in every classroom in Amathole East District?
(2) Does every learner have a textbook?
(3) Is there a desk for every learner so that no sharing of desks is taking place?
(4) Do we have classrooms in Amathole East District that are not overcrowded?
(5) Are all teachers teaching subjects that they are qualified to teach?
(6) Does our learners here have access to the internet?
(7) Has e-learning been introduced?
(8) Are there quality after school sessions, being properly managed, for our learners?
In all these cases, the answer is a Big No.
This is a reality. This is not fair. It is unacceptable. This is not a one South Africa for all with a One education for all with a One Education for All. Education is the foundation for opportunities.

As the Democratic Alliance, we believe in providing South Africans with opportunities. Access to opportunities gives life and meaning to our hard won freedoms. We believe every South African must have the chance to succeed in life and the chance to succeed starts with the access to quality education in our schools that are also safe, have proper infrastructure and which provide top quality education to our children, the future of South Africa.

We need to take action, not tomorrow, not after long, infinite, fruitless meetings, not after we feel the consequences of a broken education system – Yes, we need to take action NOW and mend that which is broken.

Our learners are ready for change NOW! Our schools are ready for change NOW! Our communities are ready for change NOW! Our province is ready for change NOW!

Let us work together to improve the lives of our learners within ONE South Africa for ALL.

I thank you.