‘Time for Parliament to debate education’

The Democratic Alliance has proposed that Parliament debate what exactly constitutes the minimum standards of the right to education.

The DA made the call on Thursday, following the party’s recent fact-finding visit to poor rural schools in Limpopo and Nomandla Senior Primary School in the Eastern Cape.

The Mail & Guardian reported in September that Nomandla is one of the seven Eastern Cape ‘mud schools’ which are suing the Eastern Cape education department, the national government and the OR Tambo district municipality to provide them with proper resources.

According to the court papers, six of the schools have classrooms built from mud and one has classrooms made from cinder blocks. They all say their facilities are unusable and massively overcrowded.

Their affidavit also claims that pupils at all seven schools rely on tanks to catch rain water but often have to walk long distances to collect water during the dry winter months.

On Thursday DA education spokesperson Dr Wilmot James told the Mail & Guardian Online that his party would be proposing that the matter of the standards of basic education be discussed in Parliament.

“The plight of learners in the areas I visited needs to be placed right at the centre of our national agenda, so I will propose that Parliament debate what exactly the minimum standards of providing basic education are,” said James.

“It was heartbreaking visiting these schools, as they are desperately under funded. The funding has been allocated but is not being managed properly.

“At Nomandla 40% percent of the community has no income but they scraped together the money to build three cinderblock classrooms. It is so bad that the principal uses a converted toilet as his office.”

James added that the problem could only be solved by instituting an integrated delivery plan which would draw together various sectors of government to provide such rural schools with all the services required.

“This is not just the problem of the education department,” he told the M&G.

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