Democratic Alliance (DA) Provincial leader and Spokesperson on Education, Jacques Smalle last Wednesday met with MEC for Education, Ishmael Kgetjepe behind closed doors to discuss pertinent issues affecting education in the province.
Smalle afterwards said the schools nutrition programme topped the agenda after recent incidents of learners coming down with food poisoning through the programme.
“The MEC conceded that there was a need to continuously vet all those who get tenders to feed our children to ensure that they maintain acceptable standards of food nutrition. There is also a need to regularise the manner where food is being stored in order to improve the quality of food.”
“We cautioned that the renewal of the existing contracts with the current school feeders is likely to lead to yet another negative outcome from the Auditor General. Urgent steps must be taken to correct these irregular tenders whose sole aim is to benefit close political allies at the expense of our learners,” Smalle is quoted to have said.
He also mentioned that the department is short-changing the poor schools with the provision of Norms and Standards funding.
“National current provision is R1 116 per learner per term whereas Limpopo gives a meagre R320 per learner per term. This is utterly unacceptable and the MEC conceded that this needs to be fixed,” Smalle said.
“The MEC further agreed that there was an urgent need to evaluate the skills capacity of our educators so that they are fully and regularly equipped to meet the curricula competence in the subjects they teach.”
Scholar transport is another chaotic factor where the provincial government is failing learners according to Smalle. “We will keenly monitor the MEC’s undertaking that all will be put in place to improve the safety of our learners to and from school. Limpopo was in the news recently about appalling toilet conditions our learners are subjected to. These clearly are far below the standards set by the nationally agreed to norms and standards.
“The DA takes the education of our learners very seriously and we will continue to monitor and engage with the MEC to ensure that the quality of our education is improved.
“Our Vision 2029 envisages the provision of a quality education through which individuals are given the opportunity to get themselves out of the grip of poverty and unemployment,” Smalle concluded.
When approached for comment and confirmation of the meeting Kegtjepe said he met with Smalle and all issues raised by him appear on the department’s programme.
“It is part of our work to engage everyone and listen to their comments. There is no doubt we will improve in some of the areas,” he said.