GDE budget should deliver quality education

Issued by Khume Ramulifho MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education
26 May 2023 in Press Statements

Note to Editors: This speech was delivered by Khume Ramulifho MPL during the budget vote on the Gauteng Department of Education in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

Thank you, Honourable Speaker,

Honourable members,

The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) must prioritise conducive teaching and learning environments.

This will enable teachers to teach and learners to learn. We note the R63 billion budget allocated to the department.

However, we must first concede that, as the province, there is a huge infrastructure backlog, with a demand to build more than 120 new schools due to urbanisation and immigration.

Our schools are ageing and dilapidated and in need of refurbishment and renovation.

The need to eradicate more than 300 asbestos and dilapidated mobile schools remains crucial.

This requires a proper implementation plan.

The ANC-led provincial government has dismally failed to plan and implement school infrastructure projects, exacerbating the problem.

In the past five years, the Department of Infrastructure failed to finish the following funded projects:

• Ahanang Intermediate Primary – Kwagga Holdings was appointed to implement this project,

• Braamfischer Primary School – TCT Civils was appointed to build this school. R89 million was the initial budget, R84 million has already been paid, and to finish this school, it will cost taxpayers R97 million,

• Kwadedangendlale Secondary School – LBMC Consulting was appointed to implement this project. R16 million was the initial budget and R25 million was paid, however, an additional R13 million is required to complete the project,

• Nancefield Primary School – Clear Choice Builders was appointed to build this school. R55 million was paid, and R87 million is estimated to be spent to complete this school. Currently, learners are congested in mobile classrooms,

• Thubelihle Primary School – Dloziman Trading was appointed to rehabilitate this school, R4 million was spent, and R11 million is needed to complete the project,

• Hillcrest Primary School – CV Chabane & Associates was appointed to refurbish the school. The budget was R9 million, but R10 million has been spent to date; it will cost R19 million more to complete this school,

• Mayibuye Primary School – Basic Blue/Nebavest JV was appointed to build the school, which can’t be occupied while learners are subjected to dilapidated mobile classrooms. R98 million has already been spent while the budget was R88 million, and it will cost taxpayers R125 million to complete,

• LG Holele Secondary School – Thaw Construction was appointed to do major rehabilitation and additional classrooms. R28 million was the initial budget, and R15 million has already been spent. There was a R110 million budget adjustment and R83 million spent, but the project is still incomplete,

• Laerskool Frikkie Meyer – Mongo Construction was appointed to refurbish and rehabilitate the school. R18 million has already been spent, but the project is still incomplete,

• Rus Ter Vaal Secondary School – Condocor (Pty) Ltd was appointed to build a replacement school. To date, R55 million has been spent, the contractor abandoned the site, and no new contractor exists.

We have schools like Sizuzile Primary School in Tsakane, where a tender was advertised in July 2022, and to date, there is not even a single brick at the school while learners are learning in dilapidated mobile structures. Learners have not been attending school for more than a month.

At Durban Deep Primary School, we were told that the school would be completed by the end of March 2023, per the department’s 3rd quarter report. Can you believe that there is not even a single brick on site?

Madam Speaker, GDE spent R9,5 million on-site establishment in the Johannesburg Ward 97 in the 2017/18 financial year. Yet, as we speak, there is no school. So, Panorama Primary no:2 has been abandoned.

Out of 18 new schools that were meant to be built, there is no public school for special needs learners, despite the high demand to place these learners.

There is an embankment avalanche at Nokuthula LSEN school; this school was handed over in 2018. More than R300 million was spent, but the quality of the work done is poor.

Learners at Khulanolwazi Primary School in Bramfischerville are subjected to unhygienic conditions. They are exposed to unsanitary and broken toilets. Imagine only two blocks out of eight are functioning, and there is no running water.

Gangsterism is rife in our schools. For example, at Altmont Technical in Protea, there were incidents of gangsters and learners carrying weapons and dagga.

When I was at the school, one learner came running to the principal’s office. He was avoiding a learner who pulled out a knife. In Soshanguve Block TT at Ruabohlale High School, a learner stabbed a young man multiple times. This incident occurred two weeks ago.

We all know that there are so many incidents of violence happening in our schools. In March, the MEC indicated 40 stabbings, 10 shootings and 16 violent crimes in the past year and a total of 94 incidents in the last five years.

We also have incidents involving scholar transport. This week, there was another accident in Garankuwa; sadly, 17 individuals were affected, and Koketso Mmako sustained multiple injuries and later passed on.

The DA convey its deepest condolences to the family and the school. It was reported that two learners are still in the hospital under critical conditions. We wish them well and a speedy recovery. Last month, there was another accident in Winterveldt where some learners got injured.

I’m raising all these cases to confirm that our learners and teachers face tremendous challenges, including shoddy infrastructure and safety and security risks. We must ensure that learning and teaching occur in a conducive environment.

There is no way that one teacher teaching more than 60 learners in one classroom will provide quality basic education. Teachers need manageable classrooms and sufficient resources to do their job.

We note the announcement of the Online Admission process for Grades 1 and 8. We can only hope and believe that all learners will be placed before October this year.

We can only wish that schools with high demand will be allocated necessary resources like the appointment of teachers and the building of additional classrooms before the end of this year.

What we have experienced in the past must never happen again. We have so many learners dropping out of the system. As we speak, some learners are not at school even when they are of school-going age. The constitution guarantees compulsory education for all children, but the MEC is still unresponsive. Either he doesn’t read emails, or simply he doesn’t care.

We have a sinkhole case in Khutsong, and since the 9th of February this year, learners have been sitting at home every day doing nothing. With no alternative for them, these children will be trapped in poverty.

Despite referring this matter to the MEC, he never visited the school. So many commitments were made by the department but have not been fulfilled as yet. On Tuesday, some parents marched to the head office, demanding urgent action to protect their children.

Since his appointment, the MEC has not visited more than 20 schools in the province, while I have visited more than 30 schools this year alone. I’m talking from experience, what I have seen and heard.

There are so many disruptions in our schools this year because of the demand for additional resources and safety for both learners and teachers.

All this is happening when the 2021 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study results revealed that 8 out of 10 learners in Grade 4 cannot read for meaning. Surely, this must concern all of us.

The DA noted that Covid-19 heavily disrupted the education system; learners were attending school on a rotational basis. The negative impact of this can be seen through the average passes in maths, science and languages and the lack of resources in no-fee-paying schools.

Our education system is still characterised by inequality, and our township schools have less access to much-needed resources.

There is a severe lack of infrastructure, overcrowding and a shortage of classrooms.

There is a need for external moderation of systemic examinations to ensure objectivity and provide credible and relevant benchmark evaluation.

Therefore, I will submit a motion and l believe this house will unanimously support it. The department will implement it to ensure that we improve the quality of education.

Speaker, I urge the MEC to cut the administration budget and add the money to the infrastructure budget. The department must manage its own infrastructure projects instead of DID because they have dismally failed.

The department must eradicate asbestos schools and those built with improper materials. They should also terminate all contracts with service providers who failed to complete their projects within two years.

Furthermore, the department must establish more sporting codes in our schools. They should fix all broken and unsanitary toilets. Fill out all funded vacancies and conduct an audit to check compliance with Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The department’s tenders must be advertised before the end of the contracts. They should also introduce standard examinations for Grades 3, 6 and 9. All outstanding long-overdue projects must be completed. Learners must be transported by reliable and roadworthy buses.

The department must reduce the litigation budget by following the rules. It must also track and trace all learners enrolled in our schools until they exit compulsory education. Increase investment in ICT instead of decreasing it.

MEC Chiloane, fix four underperforming technical schools and add more to open more opportunities to gain meaningful skills. This should include new schools for learners with special needs.

I also urge you to take your job seriously by reading emails and responding to phone calls.

Therefore, the DA is not supporting this budget.

I Thank you.