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Education before Petitions Committee

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Department of Education last week appeared before the Provincial Legislature’s Committee on Public Participation and Petitions where old and new petitions were heard. The issues related to pensions and other monies not paid to officials as well as dangerously dilapidated infrastructure and or lack of infrastructure at schools.
A departmental delegation led by acting Head of Department Beauty Mutheiwana responded that, in August, it called on all officials with outstanding financial issues to contact the department as there were issues of verification and outstanding documents that needed to be addressed before certain cases could be finalised.
The department did however not adhere to previous deadlines, set by themselves, to pay certain officials, and the committee through its Chairperson Elias Nong, said it did not believe the department would keep its promises to pay the outstanding money by 15 December. Nong said he may hold a special hearing after 16 December to determine if the outstanding money had been paid out paid.
The committee also heard evidence of several schools needing to be rebuilt, schools of which the walls, floors and roofs are in a state of near collapse. “Our lives are in danger, the school is unsafe,” was the appeal by Moshiane Primary School in Fetakgomo. The Phutikwena Secondary School near Nebo does not have an office for the principal, staff room or administration block. Water has to be bought so learners could eat.
Relebogile High School built in 1982 by the Phalaborwa Foundation has fallen into disrepair. Learners and educators are exposed to asbestos, there are not enough toilets and when the ablution block near the classes gets blocked it causes a severe stench and unfavourable conditions for learning and teaching. The school has 16 classes for 1 046 learners. The laboratory and library are dysfunctional and used as classrooms. The state of the fence also gives access to strangers to school grounds, causing a safety hazard.
The Lebeko High School in Phalaborwa asked for chairs, as they did not have enough for Grade 12 learners who must write exams. They also need tables and chairs for teachers and learners and toilets, which are in a bad condition. The Vuxeni High School also needed classrooms and school furniture.
At the time of going to print the department had reportedly submitted a written response to the petitions.

Story: NELIE ERASMUS
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