Teachers, pupils and ordinary members of the public have laid into the department of education in Mpumalanga, suggesting that it has abandoned its responsibility to improve conditions for teaching and learning in the province.
This comes after a ceiling collapsed on pupils at a school in Kwa-Mhlanga while a strike broke out at another school in Mashishing.
Accusing the department of feasting while Rome burns, they claim the authorities have done very little to resolve existing problems, which have left education in disarray. Children at Estralita Special School in Mashishing have not been attending classes regularly for over a year due to a strike involving teachers who complain that the department has ignored their concerns.
Staff members working at boarding school have since been prevented from getting to work, which forced parents to take their children home. In a separate incident toward the end of last month, a ceiling collapsed on pupils at Dumelani Primary School near Kwa-Mhlanga.
During the chaos, a panicked schoolteacher took video footage using her cellphone. Schoolchildren canbe seen scurrying for dear life while screaming in fear.
Luckily, no one was injured. Social activist Makhosi Ntuli called for urgent intervention.
“Some classes don’t have windows. [They] have broken desks, no doors and the school governing body doesn’t have access to school funds as the department has appointed other signatories that don’t help the school with anything,” said Ntuli.
For months before the ceiling collapsed, a Twitter user named Sanele Freedom Ngema said he warned about the shenanigans going on at that school.
“Dear Minister. I’m an educator at Dumelani Primary School situated at Moloto, KwaMhlanga, in Mpumalanga, under Nkangala district. Our SGB has [written] to your office, the Mpumalanga department and the Mpumalanga department HoD (head of department) requesting your intervention on mismanagement of funds in the school.”
Democratic Alliance provincial leader Jane Sithole said: “The Mpumalanga department of education has failed to spend money allocated for infrastructure maintenance, therefore the leaders should be blamed for the ceiling collapsing on top of learners at Dumelani Primary School. Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana recently indicated that the Mpumalanga department of education would forfeit R300-million in an unused infrastructure budget for the 2022/2023 financial year. Sithole accused MEC Bonakele Majuba of making false promises.
“Two years ago, the honourable MEC Majuba promised them that the old building would be demolished, but the old and cracked building is still standing, and learners are now using it as a smoking area and engaging in other unwanted activities,” she said.
In another shocking issue affecting MEC Majuba’s department, an anonymous provincial legislature official said a sanitary pads scandal is looming.
“A week ago I was invited to a certain meeting where monitors and beneficiaries of government programmes met to discuss their issues. I nearly fell off my chair when I heard one monitor saying in some schools, the service provider delivered sanitary pads that were causing sores and rushes to the schoolgirls.
“They engaged the service provider about it and were told where to get off. They engaged the department of education and were told that they needed proof that it was those sanitary pads that were causing sores and rush. They took them to three different labs and the results came stating that those pads are not good for human usage, warning that their side effects could later cause cancer.
“That service provider is still supplying the same sanitary pads in the same area.”
Majuba and his communication team have once more failed to respond to media enquiries. For years spokespersons Jasper Zwane and Gerald Sambo, seem to have not made much effort to publicly respond to education-related concerns.