Govt hard at work in EC schools

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Francis Hweshe

Cape Town - The Ministry of Basic Education says it's hard at work to improve the quality of education in the Eastern Cape.

Addressing the National Assembly today, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said that in view of the seriousness of the situation and government's commitment to providing quality education, Cabinet had resolved that she step in those areas the department "was struggling to meet minimum standards of service delivery."

"I intend to build capacity in the province to allow the Eastern Cape Education Department to resume its functions as soon as possible. I will provide regular reports on progress made with regard to the intervention.

"The ruling party (African National Congress) has the responsibility to ensure our clear goal of improved quality of basic education is met across the country. It is expressly for this reason that we have taken proactive steps to strengthen the provision of educational services in the Eastern Cape," the minister said.

Her intervention was largely welcomed by the majority of opposition parties in the house, who wished her luck, adding that the nation would be watching.

Motshekga said some of the recent challenges in that province had been over-expenditure of its budget for compensation of employees as it failed to comply with policies, and norms and standards relating to the provision of educator posts.

She said the province had failed to provide text books and stationery to section 20 schools due to poor management of the procurement process.

The province had suspended its scholar transport programme due to over-spending and terminated the school nutrition project before the end of the financial year because of factors such as poor management of the budget and supply chain management.

The minister said the provincial department also failed to implement effectively the school infrastructure development programme, resulting in funding earmarked for school infrastructure being returned to the National Treasury although the areas still faced serious infrastructure backlogs.

Amidst those challenges, she highlighted that there were "good people" both at provincial and district level, who were committed to working with her in turning around the situation.

COPE's Nolitha Vukuza-Linda said that while the department's intervention was welcome, many children had lost ground on learning.

The Independent Democrats' Lance Greyling wished Motshekga luck, adding that the children in that province had been suffering for too long and had been denied their right to proper education.