Please click here for a soundbite by Khume Ramulifho MPL, DA Team One Gauteng Spokesperson on Education
Today I embarked on an oversight inspection at Roodepoort High School, after a number of concerned parents contacted me about structural concerns and inaccessible classrooms due to structural damage.
The school’s security was given pamphlets to distribute that indicated we aren’t allowed to talk to anyone at the school without department approval. The principal also called the district director who apparently confirmed that the school must not allow the DA to conduct an oversight inspection of at the school.
The DA is reliably informed that the school has closed 18 classrooms due to structural damage and that they are using school halls as learning centres.
The DA is very concerned that we were barred from conducting the oversight because it is an election year. Since 2014, the MEC has always encouraged members of the Legislature to conduct unannounced oversight visits. It seems that deteriorating and aging schools are serious challenges that the department simply can’t fix before the May elections.
Today’s inspection is the second one where the DA was denied access for the purpose of conducting an oversight. The department has consistently failed to spend its infrastructure budget and attempting to hide structural damage will not help the department. It is pointless attempting to reform the province’s education system on the surface only.
The DA is concerned that 18 classrooms aren’t being used while there are hundreds of learners who are still sitting at home due to a lack of space. If the department can fix the challenges at Hoerskool Roodepoort, then many learners can be placed.
The DA will write to the MEC, Speaker and the Premier to establish why the Department of Education in Gauteng has issued a directive to prevent members of the Legislature from doing their job. MEC Panyaza Lesufi can run, but he cannot hide.
However, our visits to schools will continue so as to ensure that learning and teaching takes place in a conducive environment. Schools must remain safe and secure places.