Limpopo MEC for Education Polly Boshielo wants all liquor outlets that are near schools to either close or play ball during school hours.
The MEC warned that those who ignore the message from the liquor board will face the wrath of the law as she said her department was tired of playing Mr Nice Guy at the expense of the education of the children of Limpopo.
The province held an education summit at the weekend where a number of programmes focussed on improving the culture of learning and teaching in the province.
With a disappointing 66.7% matric pass rate last year, Limpopo was the worst performing province in the country.
Part of the outcome of the commissions during the weekend summit was to point out the contributing factors that led to the dismal performance of the province.
“When visiting schools across the province, we need to ensure the smooth running of learning and teaching at schools is not disturbed by taverns and shebeens, playing loud noise and selling booze to pupils.
“Pupils are exposed to alcohol, drugs and related substance, leading to unnecessary disturbances and poor attendance,” Boshielo told The Citizen on Tuesday morning.
Boshielo said the proximity of liquor outlets to schools was a serious societal problem.
“We are pledging to our traditional leaders to be extra vigilant when allocating sites for business use. With this extra pair of hands, we will all win the fight against poor matric performance and up the culture of learning and teaching in our schools,” she said.
Boshielo said Local Economic Development, Environment and Tourism MEC Thabo Mokone was committed to work with her in solving this issue.
During the matric results announcement in January, Boshielo said there were several aspects that disturbed the smooth running of learning and teaching in schools.
“We face challenges of social ills such as bullying, alcohol, drug abuse, learner pregnancy, learner ill-discipline and disruption of schools,” she said.
The MEC further pleaded with parents to take an interest in the education of their children. “It is the duty of parents to check the school books of their children, help them with homework, often check with the school management team or teachers about the condition of their children while at school.”
She said there are reports of some pupils hanging around liquor outlets, while others take drugs, during school hours.
MEC for economic development in Limpopo, Thabo Mokone, encouraged members of the public to lodge formal complaints whenever they see contraventions by the liquor outlets.
“It was unfortunate that when the Limpopo provincial government inherited a burden of consolidating three former homelands, the liquor board also inherited the Venda Intoxicating Act, Lebowa Intoxicating Act, and the Gazankulu Intoxicating Act. All these legally operating former homelands Acts did not stipulate the distance between schools and places of worship.
“The National Liquor Act 27 of 1989, did not prohibit issuing of licences next to schools. It simply required the licence holder to not disturb proceedings of schools, churches and residential areas. The current legislation does not give the authority to close the licenced liquor outlets just because they are next to schools. However, where it is non-compliance by liquor licence holders, operating next to a school and a formal complaint is lodged, the board intervenes by issuing a notice to appear before the board,” said Mokone, who is also a member of the Limpopo ANC provincial executive committee.
For the past five years, Limpopo’s matric pass rate was 65.6% in 2017, 69.4% in 2018, 73.2% in 2019, 68.2% in 2020 and 66.7% in 2021.