On the first day of schooling, DA Gauteng spokesperson for education, Sergio Dos Santos, during a site visit to three schools in the area, found that learners were being forced to begin their academic year in an “unconducive” environment.
Schools visited include Nancefield Primary School, Parkdale Primary School and Kliptown Secondary School.
Most of the schools visited have in the past been reported to be affected by service delivery issues, overcrowding and other challenges.
Last year, Independent Media reported that a dispute between the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development and the provincial Department of Education had resulted in a contractor abandoning his duties, with the DA calling for a speedy resolution of the dispute.
On Wednesday while on a site visit, Dos Santos and Baxolile Nodada, the DA shadow minister of basic education, indicated that their oversight visits revealed that the reconstruction of Nancefield Primary School and Kliptown Secondary School were still not complete, despite work starting at the schools in 2018.
Construction at Nancefield Primary School stopped due to the Covid-19 pandemic and never resumed, Nodada said.
“Eldorado Park learners are being taught in a terrible and unconducive learning environment. This was discovered during the DA’s oversight inspections at Nancefield Primary School, Parkdale Primary School, and Kliptown Secondary School to assess schools’ readiness,” Dos Santos added.
When it comes to Nancefield Primary School, Dos Santos said a severe shortage of chairs for learners had forced the school to make an arrangement with a neighbouring school.
“Nancefield Primary School has a severe shortage of chairs for the learners, even after the school had to borrow 100 chairs from a neighbouring school. This school also faces uncertainty because the company that provides the mobile classrooms is threatening to remove them due to non-payment by the Gauteng Department of Education,” he said.
One of the issues from the previous visits by the party was the issue of asbestos, which the party has once again highlighted with this visit.
“In Kliptown Secondary School and Parkdale, learners continue being taught in asbestos classrooms, which is a risk to their health and safety. In addition, the classrooms are overcrowded, there is a shortage of toilets and there is no feeding scheme. There are over 1 200 learners at Kliptown Secondary School, which has only 10 toilets each for boys and girls,” he said.
Another big issue has been school nutrition, which the DA said was a cause for concern.
“No nutritional support at Kliptown Secondary School is a slap in the face of those in desperate need of the feeding scheme. We will, therefore, be exerting pressure on the department to lower its quintile level and provide the needed diet,” Dos Santos added.
The DA has called for Gauteng MEC for Education, Matome Chiloane, to prioritise the completion of Nancefield Primary School which the party said will result in a permanent solution to the issue of asbestos.
The DA will further continue to put pressure on Chiloane to accelerate the eradication of asbestos classrooms, which are a clear violation of human rights. We will insist that the department build more classrooms and provide regular and proper maintenance.
Independent Media reports that, while on a back to school and school readiness campaign alongside the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, Chiloane pleaded with parents to give the department at least three to 10 days to deal with some of the issues hampering a smooth start to the academic year.
“We are changing the landscape of our township schools. We have been getting questions about why are you saying townships schools because people want to take their kids to the former Model C schools.
“And I will say to them, with evidence, the township schools produce quality. Here at Kgatoentle Secondary, you have produced a 100% matric pass rate, and that is something that we should be proud of because there are Model C schools that don’t achieve that, but here in Ga-Rankuwa, in the middle of the township, you have demonstrated that an old school bag carries the same load as a new school bag,” he said.