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A bitter start to the academic year for Eastern Cape Education Department

The Eastern Cape Education Department faces learning and teaching material shortage and a recent complaint laid against them at the Human Rights Commission. File photo: David Ritchie

The Eastern Cape Education Department faces learning and teaching material shortage and a recent complaint laid against them at the Human Rights Commission. File photo: David Ritchie

Published Jan 19, 2022

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A bitter start to the 2022 academic year greeted the Eastern Cape department of education as it faces a plethora of unresolved issues from the recent floods and a human rights violation complaint lodged against them at the Human Rights Commission.

According to reports, over 95 schools were damaged in the province following the relentless downpours that have hit many parts of the region.

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The education department in the province said it could only attend to 50 of those schools.

According to Eastern Cape education MEC, Fundile Gade, an estimated R166 million will be needed to fix schools damaged by the storms.

According to a News24 report, districts that have been affected are:

Chris Hani east – 9 classrooms at four schools were affected. With an estimate of R18.4 million worth of reparation.

Amathole west – 28 classrooms at 24 schools were damaged, estimated to cost the province at least R44m.

OR Tambo coastal district – 22 classrooms at 27 schools were damaged. With a cost of about R35.2m for repairs.

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Joe Gqabi – 13 classrooms at two schools were damaged. With damages worth R6.3m.

Alfred Nzo east – 15 classrooms in five schools were damaged, anticipated to cost an estimated R11m for repairs.

OR Tambo inland district – 26 classrooms at 11 schools were damaged, which is R34m for repairs.

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“The department is not ready (for the opening of schools) for several reasons. The tornado has damaged the schools badly; therefore, the infrastructure for teaching and learning is a prerequisite.

“Without proper infrastructure such as a mere roof, we cannot say that they are ready if it has not fixed these issues,” Chris Mdingi of the South African Democratic Teacher’s Union said.

“Secondly, there is also the issue of the stationery, another basic thing. Without the stationery, how can the Eastern Cape department of education say it is ready?” he added.

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Consequently, the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools has also laid a complaint against the Eastern Cape Education department at the Human Rights Commission for failing to deliver teaching and learning material in time for the commencement of the 2022 school year.

“The excuses by the education department are completely unacceptable, that is the reason why we have decided to lay a charge with the Human Rights Commission. We see this every year, and we are looking at the realisation of learners’ rights.

“They need to be investigated, and individuals in their personal capacity need to be held accountable.

“Our courts have already said that the provision of learning and teaching material is crucial to the realisation of the learners’ rights to education.

“Quintile 1- 3 schools are 100% dependent on the department to deliver materials, and according to the department, these schools will only receive their textbooks in only May this year. There is no way that their learning and teaching can take place in their schools without textbooks, and that is a gross violation of the learners’ rights,” Juane Van Der Merwe of the Federation of Governing Bodies said.

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