Failing ANC’s empty promises are killing our children’s futures

by Dr Rishigen Viranna MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Education

Asbestos roofing, no water and electricity, a single pit latrine for hundreds of learners, alleged rape and the rampant abuse of drugs are just some of the shock findings made by DA MPLs during the KZN Legislature’s functionality visits to schools across the province this week.

The DA’s findings can only be described as deeply depressing. Perhaps most scandalous though was the failing ANC’s thinly veiled election ploy at Ugu district schools, where food parcels and uniforms were handed out under the guise of ‘gifts from the Department of Social Development to needy learners and parents.’ (view photo here).

It is clear the failing ANC continues to miss the mark. What our learners need most is functional schools, not food which is gone tomorrow and a uniform which is outgrown by next year.

Other serious problems encountered during the oversight inspections include teacher shortages, funding not being allocated by the DoE, incorrect quintile rankings for schools which have led to insufficient funding, principals who are absent from school and renovations which remain incomplete while learners struggle without proper infrastructure. Findings by the DA include:

  • At Mzwamandla High School in Umlazi the DA heard allegations of rape on the premises, ill-discipline and rampant abuse of dagga and other drugs. The school’s pregnancy rate is also very high. There was a matric pass rate of 28% in 2018 and concern was also expressed over the fact that many of the teachers have come straight from tertiary education. Only 17% of learners passed pure maths last year and 29% passed maths literacy
  • At Kwabulwayo Secondary in Hlabisa many girls are unable to attend school during their periods as only one pit latrine out of eight is fully functional (view photo). The school also has no library, computer room, laboratory or admin block. Despite being a no-fee school, funding was not received from the DoE in 2018. The acting principal is struggling to ensure a successful pass rate however the photocopy machine is out of order which affected them badly last year. The matric pass rate has dropped from 96% in 2016 to 56% in 2018.
  • At Sawela Primary in Umlazi infrastructure is not compliant with national health standards and includes asbestos (see notice from eThekwini Health Services here and here). The school owes more than R100 000 in municipal bills and also failed to provide audited financial statements for 2016/17/18 which led to not receiving 2018 norms and standards funds. The current Quintile 4 ranking needs to be changed as parents do not pay school fees. The principal was also absent for whole of 2018 despite only submitting sick leave documentation for the first two terms. This was not reported by the circuit manager who has now retired. The principal has subsequently submitted his resignation which the DoE has not yet processed. The DA will call for him to be investigated and charged
  • At Inkosi Ntulabakayise Secondary School in Hluhluwe the principal, with the help of some parents, has being paying for electricity which has now been disconnected as they cannot keep up with the payments. The school only has three educators despite a minimum requirement of six. The DA also heard that renovations due for completion by 2017 were still unfinished due to numerous defects while there was also little progress in terms of boreholes being made available. During a Legislature oversight visit in 2017, the DoE committed to changing the school’s name at the request of the community. To date nothing has happened. The school also has no security or cleaners despite an assurance by the DoE that EPWP workers would stand in during the interim
  • Velangaye High School in Nkandla – once a top performing school in the district – has no water and electricity after it was cut due to a R13 000 outstanding bill. The school only received a 20% Maths and Physics pass in all four streams in 2018 yet for some reason does not offer Maths Literacy. The principal is currently suspended
  • At Mbuyiselo High in Mandeni the DA established that 18 learners are currently pregnant. Meanwhile, a project started six years ago to renovate and build additional facilities is still not complete after the contractor was changed three times
  • At Enaleni High School in Isipingo the DA found 1 200 learners enrolled in dilapidated school buildings made worse by vandalism. The school is incorrectly ranked as Quintile 5 despite parents being unable to afford the fees.
  • At Manxele High School in Eshowe the DA found a school in a downward spiral with decline in the history pass rate from 100% in 2014, to 0% pass rate in 2015 and 21% since then. The school is also not viable with 56 enrolled for 2019. The DA has suggested that the school be used for skills development.

Despite being 25 years into a new democratic South Africa, there are still so many schools where conditions are entirely unacceptable. If this is what the DA found over a short two day period then there must be hundreds of similar schools and it can come as little surprise that so many of our young people drop out of the system before they reach matric.

The one good thing to come out of this week’s inspections are the resolutions taken by MPLs and representatives of the province’s DoE which include upgrades and sorting out of funding. It is critical that these resolutions are carried through. This kind of oversight remains one of the most important tools for MPLs but if promises are not followed through, then they become mere ‘talk shops’.

The DA is committed to holding MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane and his Department to account. There is no time to waste. Unless something is done, the sad reality is that many of our earners will find themselves part of the 10.5million unemployed in our country – simply because they do not have an education.

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