The Eastern Cape High Court has granted an interim order for the reinstatement of 6,000 teachers. This will bring great relief to the parents who have been up in arms about the atrociously bad start to the school year which left their children without teachers, text books and schooling. A great deal more needs to be done to rebuild the shambolic education department in the Eastern Cape.
At the end of 2010, 6000 teachers were axed by the Eastern Cape Education Department (ECED) because of lack of funds. The medium term budget of R24 billion was exhausted because of maladministration and corruption.
The Auditor-General (AG) issued a disclaimer, the worst finding the state institution can make about an organisation’s financial affairs. The result was that the ECED was in the red to the tune of R1.6 billion and, to get itself out of trouble, it committed the worst offense by taking much needed teachers out of the classroom.
The reinstatement of the 6000 teachers is the first step according to Wilmot James of the Democratic Alliance (DA) . But a lot more needs to be done to rebuild the Eastern Cape’s shambles of an education system. The nutrition programme for children coming from very poor families (where the school meal is often the only proper one) has been suspended. Except for the farm schools, where the much maligned farmers have continued to provide support, bus transport for children has also been suspended. The R300m set aside for transport has disappeared.
A parliamentary committee oversight visit confirmed that fraudulent practices were rife in the tendering process, with the result that at least 1,100 schools had no textbooks or workbooks. The committee found dumped stationary to the value of R3 million.
Minister Angie Motshekga has rightly apologised for this appalling state of affairs. She has said she intends to intervene in the province to save the day. The DA commented that though emergency measures clearly ought to be taken, our much cherished and constitutionally entrenched provincially based school system should not be taken over by the national department (which in any event also lacks the capacity). Instead, Minister Motshekga should request Kwazulu-Natal, Free State and Western Cape to help her rebuild the education department into a working and functional institution.