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School functionality oversights - conducted by Members of the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Legislature this week - have vindicated the DA’s earlier concerns when it comes to the closure of non-viable schools in relation to the province’s defective Learner Transport Programme (LTP).
This after it came to light that plans by KZN’s Department of Education (DoE) to close approximately 1 000 non-viable schools cannot be implemented due to a lack of adequate learner transport to allow children to attend other schools.
Despite the DA having raised its concerns around school closures and the LTP on numerous occasions, KZN Premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube and her Education MEC Mbali Frazer do not appear to be concerned. Instead, they have danced around the issue as though it does not exist.
KZN’s Taliban faction ANC-run government has effectively shot itself in the foot. The reality is that non-viable school closures cannot go ahead when affected learners cannot get to other schools.
The oversights have also revealed a lack of planning on the part of the DoE, with no proper LTP monitoring when it comes to combining schools.
The DoE’s decision to cut the LTP budget by a massive R193million – as a result of budget constraints –showed a remarkable lack of foresight. It also means that there is simply no money to ensure that the programme reaches everywhere it needs to.
This has left some learners in a terrible situation. Most of the schools earmarked for closure no longer provide a conducive learning environment, while one of the schools visited was without water and electricity.
This weeks’ oversights also revealed that;
• R5million was spent on construction of ablution facilities at Mariam Patel Primary in the Pinetown district – a school identified as non-viable and due to be closed
• There has been no progress at any of the schools visited in Umlazi in January. This led to a decision by the delegation chairperson not to conduct any follow-up visits.
• In King Cetshwayo, while one or two non-viable schools have been closed, politics and local authorities are preventing the closure of others and;
• Two bridges needed in the district, to allow learners easier access to schools, have still not been built due to a lack of funds.
As with so many other provincial government-run programmes, KZN’s School Functionality visits have become yet another tick box exercise, with most resolutions from the previous oversights in January still not acted on. Instead, this week’s programme saw major issues largely avoided as the ANC resorted to its usual ‘back-slapping’ commentary to try to shift focus.
KZN’s learners can no longer suffer due to an incompetent government that has led to poor leadership, crumbling infrastructure and inadequate parental involvement. These are the core ingredients that are needed for quality education.
Learners who will be eligible to vote, their parents and siblings - together with the rest of KZN's citizens - will be able to rescue our province from this ANC-run kakistocracy at the ballot box next year.
Issued by Dr Imran Keeka, MPL - DA KZN Spokesperson on Education