Saftu: Government officials must enroll their kids in public schools | The Citizen

Saftu: Government officials must enroll their kids in public schools | The Citizen

“Scrap all of their private medical aid schemes and cards and enrol their own families and selves in the public hospitals,” said Saftu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) is proposing legislation to force government officials to enrol their children in public schools to “taste the medicine ordinary working-class parents are tasting.”

The union’s proposal comes after a recent report by the Public Protector revealed the shocking state of schools in the Eastern Cape, particularly in the Mzimvubu Local Municipality under Alfred Nzo District Municipality, where poor conditions in the schools pose a serious risk to the well-being and lives of learners and educators alike.

For example, one school had almost 170 learners crammed into one classroom.

“We are proposing that there must be legislation that will be presented in this session of Parliament, certainly before the 2024 elections, that will force all the senior government officials, from cabinet ministers, premiers, MECs, and district directors up to the principals of the schools, to take their own children to public schools so that they can taste the medicine that ordinary working-class parents are tasting in public schools,” Saftu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said.

Shocking’ state of schools

The report found overcrowding had a negative impact on the quality of teaching and learning, as it might be a challenge for educators to give every learner the attention required.

The Public Protector’s investigation team visited Loyiso Senior Secondary School in May 2021 and found the school had ten classrooms with 618 learners, and in Grade 8 there were 121 learners crammed into one classroom, Grade 9 had 116 learners, and Grade 10 had 164 learners.

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At Cancele Primary School, the conditions of the pit toilets were appalling, and there were only four toilets or ablution facilities for the entire school.

The report stated on 25 July 2023 acting HOD at the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE) Dr Soyisile Nuku confirmed five prefabricated classrooms were provided to the school. At Cancele Primary, Nuku confirmed the contractor for the construction of ablution facilities was handed over on 12 July 2023.

“Notwithstanding the significant strides and commendable improvements made by the ECDoE at Loyiso Senior Secondary School, Cancele Primary School, and in other schools in the province, it is evident that basic and essential infrastructure such as ablution and sanitation facilities are still lacking in a number of schools within the Eastern Cape,” the report said.

According to evidence provided by the acting HOD, out of 196 schools that lack sanitation flush toilets, only 30 are already embarking on a sanitation flush programme, and the tender for this project closed on 12 July 2023. Dr Nuku indicated 166 schools remain in the planning and assessment stages.

“The ECDoE has not put sufficient measures in place to ensure that the obligation to deliver education as required in terms of Section 29(1)(a) and (b) of the Constitution, Section 3(3), and Section 5A of the South African Schools Act takes place under safe and proper conditions conducive to teaching and learning,” the report stated.

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‘So appalling 29 years into democracy’

Vavi told SAfm the findings of the report were appalling after 29 years of democracy.

“It is time those who are responsible must take their own kids to these schools, and we’re not only limiting this to public schools, as in the context of the introduction of national health insurance, the government must do likewise,” Vavi said.

“Scrap all of their private medical aid schemes and cards and enrol their own families and selves in the public hospitals so that they do not ‘transform’ public hospitals for others and not themselves.”

Saftu said they write letters to all political parties to encourage them to push this legislation.

“The general call we’re making is don’t take your kids to well-run private schools and do nothing about the conditions of public schools, in particular in rural areas.”

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