With schools set to open in two weeks’ time, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education is concerned about the state of readiness of Eastern Cape schools.
The committee visited schools in the province on Thursday to assess their readiness and found only 20.7% of textbooks had been delivered thus far.
“The committee was informed that the department had only delivered stationery to 3 440 schools as of 27 January 2021, which is a 68% delivery rate.
“Furthermore, the committee was concerned that the department had only delivered textbooks to 20.7% of schools.
“While the department assured the committee that delivery would be concluded by 15 February 2021, this was not reassuring, considering that schools were originally scheduled to start more than two weeks ago,” it said in a statement on Friday.
The visit to the province was part of a national visit to schools, with similar visits paid to KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng this week.
Committee chairperson Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba said she was also concerned by the number of teaching and management vacancies in the province.
“It is a concern that the Eastern Cape system has a net vacancy of 1 595 teachers and SMT [school management team] positions. This is worse in Alfred Nzo West District, with 135 vacancies, and Joe Gqabi with a 4% vacancy rate,” she added.
The committee did, however, welcome the provincial department’s plans to offer psycho-social support to teachers and pupils who have been affected by Covid-19 to address connectivity issues that would affect e-learning and the progress made in securing scholar transport.
The provincial Department of Transport has contracted service providers to transport 124,036 pupils at 1,044 schools for three years.
This will ensure that pupils have transport on the first day of school.
The committee called on the education department to ensure, through its verification process, that all pupils requiring transport were catered for.
It welcomed assurances that personal protection equipment would be delivered to all schools in the province, which would add impetus to the fight against Covid-19.
The committee is expected to visit the Mount Fletcher Education District on Saturday.