ANC MPL lays charges against ECDOE over school closures in Port Elizabeth

JANUARY 20, 2016

An African National Congress (ANC) Member of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature (MPL), Christian Martin, on Wednesday morning apparently laid charges against the Eastern Cape Department of Education in connection with the ongoing school closures in Port Elizabeth's Northern Areas.

On Thursday last week, parents, led by the Northern Areas Education Forum (NAEF), agreed to shut down 52 schools in the area due to ongoing teacher shortages and other education-related problems.

Several schools have been closed sinc Monday, while at some schools, learners were reportedly attending classes.

Public order police and other emergency personnel maintained a presence in the area.

Last year, in July, a similar shut down called on by the NAEF, turned violent and police had to disperse protesters, who were barricading roads, with teargas, rubber bullets, stun grenades and by water cannon.

In the end, local learners missed school for almost two weeks.

Addressing the media following a meeting to quell the protests, Eastern Cape Education MEC Mandla Makapula said that his department was working to address the shortage of teachers. 

"This year, Port Elizabeth has been in the news due to a shortage of educators emanating from natural attrition and resignations, including promotions," he said. 

"We had initially given this district 173 post to address this and 124 were filled. In addition, in May this year we gave the district 122 posts to fill all other vacant posts, following an audit on the shortage of teachers."

He said the shortages were for Afrikaans-speaking teachers in Maths, Science and the Foundation Phase. 

"In most of the schools in the northern area, the language of instruction is Afrikaans," he said. 

"Out of 122 posts, only 55 were appointed as of last week and schools are still submitting [their numbers]. Numbers might have changed as I am sitting here."

He said the problem of non-payment of teachers was being addressed. 

"All teachers who have done their work must be paid." 

Makapula said the department identified 213 teachers that were not paid. Of that figure, 177 would be paid by August 8. 

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality also announced that it had allocated R6.4 million to hire 330 caretakers, secretaries and security guards that the schools lacked.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance's  (DA) Shadow MEC for Education, Edmund van Vuuren, says Martin should "show some political will and ask the Eastern Cape MEC for Education, Mandla Makupula, to resign".

"The ANC is so confused about what the solutions are that they are now laying charges against each other.

"By opening a case against the department, is MPL Martin admitting that his party has failed the people of the northern areas by not providing the necessary human resources and therefore implying that his party should not be supported, due to non-delivery?" van Vuuren said.

"MEC Makupula must resign and spare the province from another year of self-denial, failure and turning a blind eye to the shortcomings in his department."

He said that education is the ticket out of the poverty cycle, "but the freedom to access opportunities for our learners are being destroyed by a dysfunctional department. It is time for a drastic political intervention."

Related: 

DISCONTENT BREWING IN PORT ELIZABETH'S NORTHERN AREAS OVER 'FAILED PROMISES'

NORTHERN AREAS PARENTS THREATEN TO PREVENT CHILDREN FROM WRITING 2015 MATRIC EXAMS

“EDUCATION DEPARTMENT HAS FAILED NORTHERN AREA COMMUNITIES” - TROLLIP

 SACP CLAIMS DA IS EXPLOITING NORTHERN AREAS PROTESTS FOR 'CHEAP POLITICKING'

Image: Public order police in Gelvandale during the school closures in the Northern Areas in July 2015.