Oversight visits to some Limpopo schools show that these schools are not ready for the new academic year and continue to struggle with unaddressed historical challenges. This is the view of DA Limpopo spokesperson on education, Jacques Smalle, who has written to Limpopo MEC for Education, Polly Boshielo asking her to urgently address challenges faced by schools in the 2021 academic year.
In the statement, Smalle said the DA conducted oversight inspection visits yesterday at Molautsi Secondary School, OR Mabotja Secondary School and Mmaditshika Primary School.
“OR Mabotja Secondary school has not had water since the School Management Team resumed work on the 25th of January. At present, the school does not have water and has to use the general assistants to fetch water from the community. The school was badly vandalised during the December break and due to the slow response by the Limpopo Department of Education, the school has had to use its Norms and Standards funds to repair some of the damage,” the statement reads.
“The National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) food has not been delivered and learners are being fed with the food that was left over from December. The food is also stored and prepared in an unsatisfactory environment and manner. The school has a shortage of desks and some textbooks for learners, and makes use of pit toilets. The school also continues to struggle from its historical challenges of teenage pregnancies, drop out of learners and gangsterism that the Limpopo Department of Education has not addressed,”
It is further stated that Mmaditshika Primary School has a roofless four-classroom block not in use as a result of storm damage that occurred in 2013/14 and that the damage has not been addressed despite numerous engagements with the Limpopo Department of Education and unfulfilled promises for the provision of mobile classrooms. Furthermore, the school has had to use the staffroom as a makeshift Grade R classroom and has a shortage of desks.
“Mmaditshika Primary has to make use of pit toilets that are a great risk to the young learners at the school. There is also a severe water shortage at the school that compromises their hygiene standards. Molautsi Secondary School highlighted challenges around the high probability of being unable to complete the curriculum due to the rotational basis learners will be attending classes and the reduced contact time with learners,” the statement continues.
The DA further states that the NSNP at the school was functional and the food was delivered but there were no plans to prepare food for all learners, they only intend to prepare meals for the learners that will be at school on a rotational basis. It stated that there are two educators that are absent because they are recovering from Covid-19 and in addition to this there are two vacant teaching posts. As a result of this the school is currently understaffed and to compound this, there is also a shortage of grade 11 books.
On top of it, the DA states that the school continues to struggle with gangsterism and violence although there has been a reduction due to learners attending classes on a rotational basis. It is said that it is encouraging to note that in all the schools visited there was a station set up with a Covid-19 register, hand sanitizer and thermometer for the screening of every person entering the school premises. This is a marked improvement to the disorganised reopening of schools in the previous academic year.
“Early indications are also that the system of learner attendance on a rotational basis will have a negative impact on the ability of schools to completely cover the curriculum and reduce the contact time educators have with learners. In all the visits this was highlighted as a challenge in the midst of an increased workload. This culture of unpreparedness by the Limpopo Department of Education and its inability to address the historical issues the schools in the province face continues to be major issue. This depicts a bleak picture regarding the future of our learners, especially the most vulnerable learners who are in our quintile 1 and 2 school,” said the DA.
The DA said it will continue to monitor the progress of schools and adherence to the health and safety measures during this Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that learners, educators and staff are protected.