Parliament's Education Committee meets with Northern Areas stakeholders

SEPTEMBER 22, 2015

Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Basic Education met with and listened to the concerns of various stakeholders in the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth. This is after parents in the area, early this month, threatened to prevent their children from writing the 2015 Matric exams until their demands are met.

That was just two days after Eastern Cape Education MEC, Mandla Makupula, announced that the province was ready for the 2015 matric examinations.

The Committee after last week Thursday's meeting said it was pleased with the attempt made by the Provincial Department of Education in filling the vacant posts in the province as a whole.

The District Education Department indicated that some of the posts could not be filled as schools did not have vacancies for them. Most of the identified posts have been filled. They further indicated that some educators have not been paid due to bureaucratic systems. 

However, the Committee has urged the Provincial Department of Education to urgently intervene in the non-payment of educators. Committee Chairperson Nomalungelo Gina said it came to the Committee’s attention that some educators have not been paid for months.

Gina said during some of the meetings it became clear that certain teachers have not been paid for up to a year.   

“This is a serious concern to the Committee. It needs to be addressed urgently. It is against the law not to pay these educators,” said Ms Gina. The Committee commended those educators who have been standing in front of classrooms for months without any remuneration. 

The Committee said the main objective of the visit is to understand the impact of disturbances at affected schools, how schools are able to cope with the situation and any assistance or support the Portfolio Committee could give.

Gina said: “Added to this, the Committee would also like to understand how these affected schools are coping with the start of the Annual National Assessments (ANA) and Examination Readiness for 2015, as well as the overall readiness for the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examination for 2015.” 

The Committee today met with the school governing bodies (SGBs) and education forums regarding these challenges. The Committee further heard that the Northern Areas did not have sufficient Afrikaans teachers as well as therapists for “learners with special educational needs” (LSEN).

Challenges with the lack of or dilapidated infrastructure and social ills that spill over to school like alcohol and drug abuse were also highlighted.

Gina said: “There is a dire need for interventions for LSEN learners.” 

The Committee visited several schools in the area to ascertain how the Committee can assist. Ms Gina said: “It is clear that the challenges of the Northern Areas are the same as those in the townships. But our learners need to be put first.” She urged all stakeholders to work together to ensure that education in the province works. 

The Committee commended the provincial department for the school nutrition programmes it set up.

“All the stakeholders were pleased that the programmes are well run.”