The recent findings of the Auditor-General for the provincial Department of Education for the 2016/17 financial year, highlight the need for consequence management to be implemented when it comes to the administration of Eastern Cape schools. For how long must learners suffer the pain of a poor education environment while connected officials remain protected?
In a recent presentation to the Education Portfolio Committee, the office of the Auditor-General reported on visits that they undertook to schools across the province to observe the status of service delivery to schools. They discovered the following:
- In 40% of the schools that were visited, there were adverse findings regarding water supply. At the Sigcau Special School in Flagstaff, a huge pump had been installed to draw water from a dam in the nearby valley, but the dam does not exist. In several schools, leaks remain unattended to. At E.T. Tabane Primary School in Ugie, learners are exposed to sewerage due to a leaking septic tank that is 40 years old.
- In 60% of schools visited, toilet conditions are adverse. At E.T. Tabane Primary, 1 994 learners share seven toilets. There is no proper sanitation, only “full and filthy” pit toilets at Xolilizwe Senior Secondary in Willowvale. In several schools, learners are exposed to leaking sewage, use toilets without doors, or have the entire toilet block closed due to shoddy workmanship during installation. Learners are thus forced to use the bush surrounding the schools. The Jeffrey’s Bay High School, which was opened with much hoo-hah some two years ago, one set of toilets is being used for boys and girls.
- In 30% of schools, electricity remains a challenge due to cable theft and exposed wires.
- In 100% of schools visited, stationery deliveries were faulty. In some cases, matric learners received stationery packs with glue and scissors, instead of exercise books.
- In 70% of schools, text book delivery was either late, consisted of incorrect quantities, incorrect books or no books at all. The Efata School for the Deaf and Blind in Mthatha received normal text books instead of Braille books. Teachers then had to convert them to Braille. Ntsokotha Senior Secondary School in the Buffalo City Metro did not receive books in 2016 or 2017. There are currently three match books available to the matric class.
- In terms of support from the Education Department, 62% of schools had problems with district support, 50% of schools had problems with circuit support and 56% of schools had problems with subject advisor support. In most cases, the schools simply do not see or interact with these officials.
The Eastern Cape Department of Education has also had extremely adverse findings regarding irregular expenditure, which tips the scales at R2,593-billion for the 2016/17 financial year, with a further R1,102-billion still under investigation. This is an increase of 30% over the 2015/16 financial year, where confirmed irregular expenditure stood at R1,086-billion and a further R857-million under investigation.
In the light of the AG’s comments regarding the reasons for the irregular expenditure in the department, the Democratic Alliance urges the MEC of Education, Mandla Makupula, to terminate the employment of corrupt officials within his department’s ranks, who abuse tax payers’ money to line their own pockets by awarding themselves and their families tenders.
The AG found that:
- In irregular expenditure totalling R196-million, the department did not obtain written price quotations from at least three different prospective suppliers when procuring goods and services;
- The accounting officer did not maintain appropriate measure to ensure that transfers and subsidies to schools were applied for their intended purposes, resulting in irregular expenditure of R265-million; and
- Irregular expenditure caused by awards to suppliers owned by officials and awards to suppliers whose tax matters were not in order.
Until corruption is rooted out, none of the changes being implemented within the department will result in anything other than a failed system.
The learners of our province deserve access to a fair education system that provides them with the opportunity to get ahead in life and reach for their dreams. My colleague, Edmund van Vuuren, Shadow MEC for Education, and I will continue to fight for the rights of our learners.
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