Serious questions need to be asked about the Eastern Cape Department of Education’s (ECDoE) commitment to eradicate mud schools in the province. It is going to be very difficult to eradicate these structures, which have been deemed unfit for education purposes, if the ECDoE does not even know how many there are!
Based on a recent response from Education MEC, Fundile Gade, to a parliamentary question, the number of mud schools in the province has actually increased from 2018 to 2021!
I challenge the MEC to explain the discrepancies in these responses!
In response to a parliamentary question submitted by my colleague, MPL Edmund van Vuuren, in 2018, the Department said there were 436 mud schools in the Eastern Cape. In a more recent response, received from a question submitted by myself, there are currently 582 schools with mud structures in the province.
There are only two possible reasons for the increased number of mud schools.
The first is that the Department cannot conduct thorough assessments, which means that the ECDoE, under the leadership of Gade, has no proper understanding of the hardships faced daily by our learners, teachers, and staff.
The other possible reason is that the Department’s inefficiency in delivering infrastructure has resulted in communities building additional mud schools themselves, so their children can attend school and receive an education.
Either way, both are despicable and add fuel to the suffering of learners and teachers.
How will the Department ever eradicate mud schools when they do not even know how many mud schools there are?
The discrepancy regarding mud school also brings into question the validity of all responses received from, and statistics spoken of, by the ECDoE.
How can one make informed decisions to improve the lives of learners under your care, if you cannot even rely on the accuracy and validity of the statistics you are provided with?
MEC Gade must be held accountable and provide a full explanation for this discrepancy.
A capable state, strong leadership, and a caring government would have systems in place that keep track of critical data, such as the mud schools that have been identified and need to be eradicated. This information should also be readily available at a moment’s notice.
The key to getting things done is knowing what needs to be done in the first place. A DA government would run a capable state that gets things done.