Port Elizabeth – Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle has urged parents in Port Elizabeth’s northern areas not to disrupt schools next week.
“As much as there are reasons on the part of parents to be unhappy… let’s not further deprive learners by closing down schools. It is not a desired option,” he told reporters at the Port Elizabeth city hall on Friday afternoon.
“We would take this opportunity to invite parents on a different route than that of shutting down schools. We are all concerned about the future of the learners. They all need enough quality time with educators in front of them, we cannot do the opposite,” Masualle said.
On Thursday night, angry parents vowed to shut down schools if the education department did not meet their demands. Port Elizabeth’s northern area’s came to a standstill last year when violent protests erupted after 33 schools were shut down due to a number of issues, including teacher shortages.
Masualle, education MEC Mandla Makupula, human settlements MEC Helen Sauls-August and Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Danny Jordaan conducted back-to-school inspections at several schools in the city this week.
This followed the dismal performance by matriculants in 2015, with the Eastern Cape again bringing up the rear.
Masualle said problems in Nelson Mandela Bay included teacher shortages in specific learning areas, teachers being on sick leave for prolonged periods, and schools being exposed to vandalism and criminal activities because of a lack of security and proper fencing.
“We are particularly concerned to have learnt that in some schools textbooks for critical subjects like mathematics and physics are yet to be delivered,” he said.
Nelson Mandela Bay required urgent attention and Makupula would deploy a multi-disciplinary task team in the metro before January 22 to deal with pressing issues raised.
“In one of the schools we visited we found that a teacher had been absent for more than eight months. That cannot be accepted,” Masualle said.
The task team would assist district offices to attend to administrative issues speedily.
“I find it totally unacceptable that we have to sit with teachers out of work for more than eight months. If he is incapacitated, a person needs to be boarded, and that should not take long,” Masualle said.
Makupula said closing schools in the northern areas was not the answer.
“I acknowledge there are areas where the department is not moving according to pace and expectation, but we don’t resolve problems by causing problems.”
One of the issues was the language of instruction and learning at dual-medium schools, Makupula said.
“The law allows a particular community to say we want our children to be taught in a particular language… this teacher who can teach maths in Afrikaans is very rare. Sesotho communities are also demanding a maths teacher who can teach in Sesotho, so it’s a transformational issue.”
Makupula said these issues did not apply only to the northern areas, but to all children in the Eastern Cape who wanted equal and quality education.
African News Agency
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