Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Monday said the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) was failing pupils by allowing poor conditions to persist in schools. 

The DA's shadow MEC for infrastructure development and property management in the province, Alan Fuchs, made the statement following an oversight visit to the Apex Primary School in Lenasia. Fuchs visited the school with councillor Dave Dewes. 

"This is not the first complaint about this particular school or the first site visit. In January of this year, the DA’s shadow MEC for education in Gauteng, Khume Ramulifho MPL, together with the former constituency head, and councillors, visited the school but were denied entry," said Fuchs.

"This obstructive attitude by the school management and the poor state of the school was reported to the GDE, which responded by undertaking to deal with the concerns raised."

Fuchs said the most recent visit showed conclusively that the department of education had reneged on its undertakings. 

Despite the department indicating that necessary repairs relating to leaking roofs and the ablution block had been fixed, the conditions at the school remained "appalling".  

"The school grounds were covered with litter, the paving is crumbling, the paint is peeling off the buildings, the toilets are in an appalling state and allegations of overcrowding persist."

"It is alleged that the learners are responsible for the littering. Why management of the school is not able or willing to provide the necessary oversight and discipline in this regard is a question that must be asked," said Fuchs.

"The fact that the floors of some of the toilet facilities were covered with water and mud, and other facilities were locked because they are not functional, is contrary to the obligations of the education department as far as the legislated infrastructural norms and standards are concerned."

Fuchs said Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi and the management of the department should not be allowed to treat the children with contempt. They must be, and will be, held to account, he said. 

However, the department said it appointed service providers to conduct the necessary repairs relating to the leaking roofs and ablution block. 

"The works were completed on September 11, 2019, accordingly, the school was fixed. We also redirected two mobile classrooms from Lehae Primary to Apex Primary in February 2019, to assist with the challenge of overcrowding," said spokesperson Steve Mabona.

"We are aware that members of the community are utilising the school after contact time, and as such they must not vandalise the school."

African News Agency (ANA)