The Eastern Cape Department of Education’s on-going financial mismanagement and lack of accountability is impacting on learners’ continued ability to access education. The Catholic Church is threatening to close two schools, one being a school for the deaf, in the province due to long standing non-payment of rentals by the department. The funds are needed to maintain the schools, which are falling into disrepair.
Only an effective administration can ensure that quality education can be delivered in the Eastern Cape.
Despite a parliamentary question by me to the department and numerous attempts by the church to resolve this matter, the non-payments continue. The department must contact the church and pay what they owe in order to resolve this matter.
The Catholic Church leases 21 school buildings to the province of which 18 are in arrears. Altogether the church is owed R926 663. The two schools which the church is threatening to close are St. Thomas School for the Deaf outside Stutterheim which is owed R146 549 going back 11 months and the Smiling Valley Intermediate School at Cobongo (Kei Road) which is owed R79 960 going back 15 months.
According to a question to the MEC of Education, Mandla Makupula, the arrear rentals were paid. The church disputes this. I have again written to the MEC on this matter.
The church has tried on three occasions to meet with the department. Mr. Mike De Vos, the church’s representative, travelled three times from Port Elizabeth to the department’s head office in Zwelitsha to meet with officials after a fixed appointment. Each time the officials were nowhere to be found.
A DA-government would not tolerate this kind of behaviour and would ensure that the department meets it obligations and communicates effectively with important stakeholders in education.
Please, MEC, ensure your department pays up so schools are not closed.