By ROD AMNER
Eleven of the 12 schools who communicated their situation through the Makhanda Circle of Unity Education Cluster had not received learner support supplied from the Eastern Cape Department of Education (DoE) by 1 February.
The DoE failure to deliver textbooks and stationery at the start of the school year on Wednesday, 19 January, left most local schools in dire straits.
Only one school, Fikizolo Primary, received stationery on 20 January after a struggle without books. “On the first three days of opening, we used books left from the previous year and also got some leftovers from another school,” the school reported.
A provincial portfolio committee meeting was held at Khutliso Daniels High School on 25 January, attended by Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo) representatives.
Azapo’s Thanduxolo KulaKula said the organisation noted a “lack of planning and communication” in the Department of Education that “could have been avoided.
“This affects teaching, learning and unnecessarily caused anxiety,” he said.
At a press conference last Tuesday, 18 January, Eastern Cape education MEC Fundile Gade promised the department would deliver all outstanding stationery, learning material, teaching material, science and technology equipment, maths and sciences apparatus, electronic equipment and school furniture by 24 January.
He attributed the delay in delivering study material to budget constraints faced by his department.
Due to the budget shortfall, he said he had to ask the Department of Basic Education, the Treasury, and the Office of the Premier for R267 million to purchase textbooks.
“That was made available to the Department of Education in December 2021 for the purchasing of learner support material,” said Gade.
“This, therefore, meant that the procurement process related to this amount could only start then, at the time when most of our key role-players were already winding up for December holidays, and effectively the procurement process was concluded in January 2022.”
The education department requested an additional amount of R5.722 billion in the Adjustments Budget in 2021. However, Provincial Treasury was only able to allocate a further R307 million (5.4%).
Retief Odendaal, the Democratic Alliance Shadow MEC for Finance on the Eastern Cape, said the department had overspent the voted budget, resulting in unauthorised expenditure.
The Azanian People’s Organisation’s (Azapo) Thanduxolo Kula said the department had promised to deliver learner support materials by 4 February.
Grocott’s Mail will monitor the situation.
The situation at local schools on 1 February
Mary Waters High School: No stationery delivered.
St Mary’s RC Primary School: No stationery received. “Parents have been requested to top up the stationery the school normally receives from the Department of Education as it is insufficient for all subjects. Most parents cannot afford to buy additional books.”
NV Cewu Primary: No stationery delivered. “No-fee school parents at the school cannot afford to buy stationery.”
George Jacques Primary: No stationery delivered. “Only surviving with limited old stock to a certain extent.”
Tantyi Primary: No stationery delivered. “Tried to call the number provided to find out about delivery, but it doesn’t exist. Most parents cannot afford to subsidise the government’s lack of delivery.”
DD Siwisa Primary: No stationery delivered.
Good Shepherd Primary: No stationery delivered.
Fikizolo Primary: Received stationery on 20 January after a struggle without books. “On the first three days of opening, we used books left from the previous year and also got some leftovers from another school.”
Ntaba Maria: No stationery or textbooks delivered. “Not sufficient workbooks. Educational assistants and general assistants not paid for January, and payment for November and December short by R20 000. We are a low-paying fee school (R190 per learner per month) – most parents can’t afford additional stationery.”
Klipfontein Primary: No stationery or textbooks delivered. “Educational assistants and general assistants not paid for January.”
Grahamstown Primary: No stationery delivered.
Archie Mbolekwa Primary: No stationery delivered.