Eastern Cape education MEC, Mlungisi Mvoko, at the education stakeholders' meeting on Monday. Photo by African News Agency (ANA).

EAST LONDON - The MEC for education in the Eastern Cape, Mlungisi Mvoko, told a stakeholders meeting on Monday that his office had been "flooded" with community complaints that should be the responsibility of circuits or district offices. 

The MEC was speaking at the East London Sterling Leadership Institute during the province's education stakeholders' engagement meeting. 

He said the role of circuit offices needed to be reviewed due to their "failure to hold ongoing dialogues" between the education department and the community. 

The department is at the end of its three year plan and was hosting stakeholders to plan for the years 2020 to 2023.

"We created circuit offices so that they can assist us, to be our foot soldiers in the communities, but they are not doing so. If they are not helping us we may have to abolish them and find other ways of engaging communities. But I hope at the end of our discussions there will be a plan," said Mvoko. 

He said while the province was still dealing with an infrastructure backlog it also faced a decline in the number of learners attending rural schools. 

A number of newly-built schools had been forced to close because the numbers simply did not meet requirements, he said.  

"In certain areas we need to expand existing schools to accommodate more learners instead of replacing mud schools with properly built ones. Sometimes we need to build hostels in existing schools rather than building new schools. We also need alignment of departments and stakeholders before we build new schools," said Mvoko. 

He said the department had done "everything" to make education accessible and had called on stakeholders to help create "functioning" schools.  

The superintendent-general for the provincial treasury, Daluhlanga Majeke, said the Eastern Cape had shown sparse economic growth, which led to population migration. 

Between 2014 and 2017, he said, more than 500 000 people had left the province. This resulted in a loss of over  R19 billion that the Eastern Cape was allocated by national national treasury. This impacted on the amount available to provincial departments, including education. "Education is always the hardest hit when Eastern Cape loses equity share," said Majeke. 

But he also expressed concern about the education department's "ineffective spending", which resulted in R500 million having to be returned to national treasury in the last financial year. 

"The education department needs effective spending systems, we need to step up the ladder, but we must also manage our cost of employees," said Majeke. 

Additional stakeholders are expected to make submissions when the conference continues on Tuesday.  

African News Agency (ANA)