MEC fails to deliver on promise of internet access for schools

Issued by Yusuf Cassim, MPL
Shadow MEC for Education

Eastern Cape Education MEC, Fundile Gade, has failed to deliver on a promise he made in April to connect 1 000 rural schools to broadband internet by June, as part of the Department’s programme to improve education in far flung areas of the province.

The Democratic Alliance will be monitoring the rollout closely, as it is simply unacceptable that it is taking so long.

In response to a parliamentary question during a recent sitting of the Eastern Cape Legislature, MEC Gade admitted that not one of the thousand schools has been connected.

See response here

The people of the Eastern Cape are tired of empty promises and blatant lies. We need a government that gets things done.

In today’s times, we rely on the internet for communication, learning and development. The children in the Eastern Cape are being left behind and there seems to be no urgency to address the issue.

MEC Gade has blamed the delays on procurement processes, saying they still needed to finalise the contract, but failed to specify if the internet connectivity would only be available to teachers and staff, or if it made provision for learners as well.

The contract, according to the MEC, is worth an estimated R100 million over a 36 month time period.

Once again, we must ask whether we can believe the MEC or not.

The Sizwe Africa IT contract to provide learners with tablets was initially reported to have a value of R160 million. By the time the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) brought their court application, the value had escalated to more than R538 million.

The DA in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature has been driving the issue of connecting schools to the internet for many years in the form of motions, parliamentary debates, and discussions within portfolio committee meetings.

I will be following up with MEC Gade to make sure that SITA has been included in the procurement processes and will be monitoring the rollout of this connectivity closely.

The significant impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the education sector, has highlighted the importance of having our schools and learners connected to the internet.

All the ANC-led government has provided so far, is empty promises and false hope.