A delegation of Permanent Members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) remains concerned by school infrastructure challenges that continue to afflict the Eastern Cape Province. The delegation is part of the week-long Taking Parliament to the People report back session in the province.
The delegation based in the Alfred Nzo District was informed that in the Alfred Nzo West District there remains about 32 mud schools still operational. “It is concerning that at this day and age there are students that continue to learn in substandard structures. This goes against the ethos of the Bill of Rights that guarantees quality education to all learners,” said the leader of the delegation, Mr Eddie Makue.
Despite the infrastructure challenges in the province in general, the NCOP delegation was encouraged by good matric results in the district and at Zwelakhe Senior Secondary School in particular which has achieved a 93% pass rate in the previous school year. Despite the good results, the school continues to battle with inadequate infrastructure. The school informed the delegation that there are 14 classrooms that cater for the 1183 learners at the school, with an average of 84 learners in a classroom.
“We find it unacceptable that parents of learners at Zwelakhe Senior Secondary School had to contribute money to build four additional classrooms in order to ensure that learning happens in reasonable infrastructure,” Mr Makue emphasised. In line with this, the delegation has instructed the Department of Basic Education at both National and Provincial level to speed up the rollout of the ASIDI programme to ensure that adequate infrastructure is built in the province. Mr Makue added that there is a need for the private sector to contribute in ensuring that adequate infrastructure, such as science laboratories, are built in rural areas.
The participation by parents in the education of their children was seen as a positive trend for the district which has contributed to the high matric pass rate. “We welcome the great work done by the principal, the management team, teachers, SGB and parents in ensuring that learners are passing despite the huge challenges they are facing,” Mr Makue emphasised.
At Mjila Ridge Primary school the delegation encouraged the sharing of best practice between schools to ensure improvement of learning. Furthermore, the delegation urged the provincial government to reverse the Section 33 (Closing down of the school) process at the school especially because there seems to be an improvement in circumstances.
At the Ntabankulu public library, the delegation emphasised the need for collaboration with Sector Education and Training Agencies that will assist the library with resources to adequately supply the library.
The NCOP delegation also called for good working relations with higher education institutions which would assist with expertise and in the training of the library staff. Mr Makue also called on the municipality to assist by resourcing the library with the requisite technology so that learners and users of the library could be empowered technologically.
The delegation has welcomed the implementation of some recommendations made by the NCOP during the Taking Parliament to the People programme in the province but has emphasised the need to implement all recommendations.
Issued by Parliamentary Communication Services on behalf of the Leader of Delegation, Eddie Makue