Unrest damage to KZN & Gauteng schools; School reopening readiness; with Minister

Basic Education

03 August 2021
Chairperson: Ms B Mbinqo-Gigaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


The Committee Chairperson said that it was shocking that the cost of damages and vandalism to schools is estimated at over R141 million. At least 14 schools were targeted in Gauteng with damages of R38 million. The impact in KwaZulu-Natal was worse, with 144 schools, eight circuit management offices, and three education centres vandalized and looted costing over R100 million. This is money that was not budgeted for. Money that government does not have and money that could have been spent on much-needed projects. There needed to be serious discussions in MPs' constituencies about how members of the public cannot target much-needed infrastructure, especially schools, when they vent their frustration. Schools always end up being soft targets during protests and it is the poorest of the learners that suffer.

The Minister of Basic Education was present at the start of the meeting to explain that she was en route to table a proposal to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) calling for an amendment to the physical distancing regulation between learners from one metre to half a metre as some primary schools would not be able to implement that without resorting  to rotational schooling impacting curriculum coverage.  
The Department of Basic Education (DBE), KZN Education Department and Gauteng Education Department (GDE) told the meeting that protests and looting affecting 137 schools and offices in KwaZulu-Natal – one school in Pinetown was burnt to the ground. Gauteng had four schools affected but fortunately there were no major structural damages. DBE noted that it was still in the process of repairing more than 1 700 schools damaged during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown. Vandalism, arson, and looting has affected more than 400 schools in Gauteng alone since South Africa first entered lockdown in March 2020. Some 2 000 schools across the country have been targeted by criminals over the past year.

The presentations detailed damages to schools since the start of 2021, with an emphasis on the July 2021 looting which swept over both provinces. Most of the damage sustained by schools is the theft of electrical wiring, copper pipes, aluminium frames, steel fencing and ICT equipment, like computers and printers. Damage included blocks, doors, roofs, ceilings, ablution facilities and sanitary fittings. Stolen items also included projectors, overhead screens, sound systems, routers, furniture, lights, garden equipment and kitchen resources and equipment such as stoves, fridges, microwaves, eating utensils, school nutrition equipment and food items, sanitisers and masks.
Committee members denounced the vandalism and looting of schools as “hooliganism”, “primitive” and “barbarism”. Damaging of schools was inexcusable no matter what people might be going through. The schools were the community’s pride and people must protect them. There is no justification for destroying what is already there because it costs too much to rebuild. The Chairperson said that communities should be reminded that destroying schools was not a form of a protest. As schools were in communities, they were targeted first during the unrest and that was wrong.

Members expressed concern that food and equipment to feed learners as part of the National School Nutrition Programme were looted. The DBE assured the Committee that many of the items have been replaced or are in the process of being replaced. Members asked for clarity on the DBE circular on operational requirements for school-based educators following the vaccination programme – who had the authority to issue the circular stating that educators had to provide a medical motivation for not being vaccinated. Members asked about dropout rates in the wake of COVID-19 school closures. DBE had to follow up school dropouts and get them back to school. The security plan for school infrastructure was heavily questioned as well as where DBE would find the budget for the ever increasing vandalisation of schools. Had DBE done a cost-benefit analysis of the cost of repairs versus the cost of security protection or insurance for schools?

The KZN MEC noted that security guards were on duty during the recent uprising but they were overpowered. He said that despite the Department best efforts, as long as communities themselves do not protect schools, this battle of vandalism and looting in schools will not be won. He called upon political parties to be active in mobilising communities to protect schools.

The Committee resolved to undertake an urgent oversight visit to both provinces to establish first-hand the damage to school property.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson noted the Minister of Basic Education would be leaving early for a National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) meeting and there was an apology from Gauteng Education MEC, Mr Panyaza Lesufi, who had an engagement to attend.

The Chairperson noted that this was a virtual joint meeting with the Select Committee. She asked for a moment of silence for the passing of IFP Member of Parliament, Mr Mthokozisi Nxumalo, as well as other Members lost during the parliamentary recess.

The Committee was still in recess, but it needed to have this meeting due to the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng that had caused serious damage. The Chairperson said that it was unfortunate that when people decide to protest, they attack schools. Many schools have been vandalised in both provinces. She noted that the Speaker had informed them of a plenary debate on the unrest when Parliament returns from recess , and it is expected that the affected committees deliberate on the matter beforehand. She thanked Members for attending a Committee meeting during their constituency work period.

Minister’s opening remarks
Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, spoke to what had been one of the most devastating experiences in the country over the past few days, not only to watch lives being lost unnecessarily, but also losing infrastructure. For DBE, it is one of the biggest challenges it has as the education sector. The Minister had been visiting schools and infrastructure continued to be a big problem. Just losing one school or having one incident of vandalism is a big problem. DBE suffered severe challenges in Gauteng and KZN. Another time, the Department would tell the Committee about the vandalism experienced in other provinces, but today it would focus on the KZN and Gauteng. The Minister asked for the Chairperson’s permission to leave for the NCCC meeting as social distancing at schools had to be sorted out at the NCCC. DBE had requested all primary school children to return to school from yesterday. DBE was experiencing some difficulties with social distancing; Cabinet had allowed a one metre distance, but in some instances, a metre was not possible. Therefore, she needed to go back to the NCCC. DBE had good advice from the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Coronavirus that the distance can be safely reduced, and that is what she needed to present at the NCCC.

DBE: Readiness of Primary Schools and Special Schools to Receive All Learners
Mr Mathanzima Mweli, DBE Director General, explained that the first DBE presentation was on the readiness of schools this week. After that, there would be presentation on the impact of violence and looting on schools, followed by KZN and Gauteng’s presentations.

Ms Simone Geyer, Deputy Director General (DDG): Delivery and Support, presented.
• Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) at schools include:
- Social distancing;
- Regular hand washing or sanitizing;
- Proper wearing of face masks;
- Cleaning and sanitising of frequently touched surfaces;
- Effective screening to prevent anyone with COVID-19 symptoms entering school premises;
- Isolating those who show COVID-19 symptoms in schools;
- Limiting visitors to schools.
• These NPIs work in conjunction with each other; no single NPI is effective on its own.
• The Sector is working to implementing all NPIs strictly to control virus transmission in schools.

Provision of water tanks to ensure regular washing of hands
• The three main ways of providing water to schools, which do not get water supply from municipality, are:
- the supply of water tanks and water to fill them;
- making use of existing boreholes; and
- installing new boreholes.
• Provinces use a combination of these mechanisms to ensure that all schools have water supply.
• Some provinces (Free State [FS], Gauteng [GP], KZN, Limpopo [LP], Mpumalanga [MP], Northern Cape [NC], North West [NW], Western Cape [WC]) have provided schools with water tanks and have put systems in place to fill these tanks regularly.
• Some provinces (Eastern Cape [EC], Free State, Gauteng, KZN, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape) have Service Level Agreements with municipalities, water boards and contractors to supply water for water tankers.

Servicing of existing boreholes and installing new ones to ensure regular washing of hands
• Five provinces (KZN, MP, LP, NC and NW), in addition to other methods of providing water to schools, are servicing the existing boreholes.
Five provinces (KZN, MP, LP NC and NW) have measures in place to service existing boreholes:
- 185 boreholes are being serviced;
- 85 boreholes have already been serviced; and
- 43 boreholes will be installed by 26 July 2021.
The installation of boreholes is generally part of a long-term infrastructure plan.
Seven provinces (EC, FS, KZN, LP, MP, NC and NW) have plans to install new boreholes.

Monitoring to ensure that schools have constant and uninterrupted water supply
• Seven provinces (FS, GP, KZN, MP, LP, NC and WC) have on-site storage facilities for schools which experience water challenges and to address intermittent water supply. This includes:
- The provision of water tanks; and
- The provision of boreholes.
• In areas where the municipal supply is not reliable, reservoir tanks have been designed to store water for at least 48 hours.
• In other cases, smaller storage facilities are connected to the municipal supply to collect water during the off-peak periods for use by the schools.

Provision of face masks for learners
• Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) provided guidance that cloth face masks have a lifespan of approximately six months. In line with this guidance:
- All provinces have made funds available to procure new masks;
- Provinces are at different procurement stages to provide new masks by the time all primary school learners return to school on daily attendance in the third term:
- In some provinces, new masks have already been centrally procured, are stored in warehouses and will be distributed to schools; and
- In other provinces, the procurement of masks is at an advanced stage.
- Some provinces provided learners in Grades R, 1 and 8 with new masks in February 2021.

Monitoring to ensure proper wearing of masks
• Provinces have issued circulars to schools to reinforce strict compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOP).
• The Sector considers not wearing masks properly in schools as a serious misconduct.
• Monitoring compliance with proper wearing of masks is done at different levels:
- Principals, School Management Team members and teachers doing daily monitoring;
- Circuit managers and district officials do spot checks;
- Provincial head offices do regular monitoring on a sample basis, spot checking by monitors.

Provision of COVID-19 Essentials
• Schools in all provinces will have COVID-19 essentials when schools reopen in the third term. These essentials include:
- Masks for learners, educators and non-educators;
- Face shields;
- Hand sanitisers;
- Detergents and soap;
- Disposable gloves; and
- Heavy duty gloves for cleaners.
• Provinces use different mechanisms to procure COVID-19 essentials. These include:
- Central procurement and distribution to schools (GP, KZN, LP, NC, NW); and
- Transfer of funds to schools to procure own COVID-19 essentials (EC, FS, MP, WC).

• Provinces use different mechanisms to ensure schools do not run out of COVID-19 essentials:
- Keeping surplus stock (EC, KZN, LP, MP, NW);
- Principals monitor stock and place orders to their districts (FS, GP, LP, NC, NW, WC);
- Frequent supply, at least twice every term (NC);
- Employing officials to monitor COVID-19 essentials in schools (NW);
- Using electronic surveys to check the stock levels (NC, WC);
- Schools first utilise their norms and standards funding to procure PPE needed (WC).

Provision of infrared thermometers
- All schools have been provided with adequate thermometers according to enrolment size;
- Infrared thermometers checked regularly to ensure they are not faulty;
- Dysfunctional or damaged thermometers are returned to the suppliers or replaced
- All provinces have measures to ensure infrared thermometers are sufficient and functional.

Ensuring that screening is done effectively and efficiently
• Funding has been made available to provinces to employ enough screeners to ensure:
- effective screening so no one with COVID-19 symptoms are allowed on the school premises
- efficient screening to avoid delays in starting lessons on time in the morning.
• 49 741 screeners have been appointed to carry out effective and efficient screening.
• Screeners were trained how to screen properly and refresher programmes are scheduled.
• Additional screeners, who will be appointed, will also be trained.

Observing health protocols in special schools
• Provinces use a combination of approaches when learners share assistive devices:
- Eliminating the sharing of assistive devices as far as possible;
- Guidelines were issued to special schools where SOPs were contextualized;
- A protocol and training programme on cleaning of wheelchairs and assistive devices was provided to special schools for learners with physical disability;
- In schools for blind, there is regular sanitising of frequently touched surfaces;
- Schools are encouraged to help learners with regular washing of hands;
- The devices are sanitised before and after use by learners.

Observing health protocols in school of skills
• Health protocols during practical work in the workshops in schools of skills include:
- Limiting the number of learners per workshop and rotational time table;
- Continuous sanitising of the machinery and equipment;
- Planning activities to avoid sharing of apparatus / machines / material;
- Strict wearing of masks at all times and affording learners regular mask breaks;
- Keeping doors / windows open to ensure airflow.

Observing health measures in learner transport
• Provinces will use these measures when all learners return to school:
- Employ scholar transport monitors to ensure scholar transport learners comply;
- Learners and operators wear their masks all the time;
- Learners sanitise their hands when boarding and disembarking;
- Vehicles are cleaned or sanitised before and after use.
- Fitting all busses with sanitiser dispensers;
- Training operators about disinfection of the learner transport vehicles;
- Provincial Departments of Education and Transport collaborate to ensure health protocols are strictly maintained in scholar transport.

Measures to Provide Ablution Facilities
• Infrastructure backlog dates back before COVID-19
• The sector will be unable to address backlog in immediate future given education budget cuts
• While there are challenges in some provinces with ablution facilities, progress has been made:
- Provinces have ensured that all schools have toilet facilities, although inadequate in some
- To address inadequacy, provinces have supplied mobile toilet facilities in schools
- Schools are supported to maintain the mobile toilet facilities in good working condition
- In EC, MP, NC, NW, procurement is advanced to supply additional mobile toilet facilities.

National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP)
• In all provinces, learners targeted for NSNP receive meals in schools.
• All provinces ensure COVID-19 protocols are adhered to when preparing and serving food.
• All provinces have put measures in place to prevent virus spread when learners eat meals:
- Teachers monitor learners to ensure social distancing is maintained when learners have their meals inside and outside the classrooms;
- Schools have been instructed to keep the windows and doors open to ensure good ventilation.

• Provinces observe health protocols during food preparation and serving food including:
- Providing budget for COVID-19 essentials such as sanitisers, masks and plastic aprons;
- Training on COVID-19 protocols similar to training received on food preparation and hygiene;
- Orientation of food handlers on the health protocols to ensure no deviation.
- Making and distributing demonstration videos on kitchen safety protocols;
- Monitoring and reminding food handlers to adhere to health protocols;
- Tasking Health and Hygiene Committees to ensure health protocols are adhered to.

Observing health protocols during feeding time
- Staggering feeding times to ease congestion;
- Serving meals outside the classrooms whenever weather permits;
- Serving meals in halls, open spaces or classrooms under supervision of teachers;
- Using other available personnel to assist during serving of meals;
- Demarcating all seating areas clearly.

Areas That Remain a Challenge in Some Provinces
Provision of school furniture
• Provinces have a backlog to provide adequate furniture to schools.
• Six provinces (FS, KZN, LP, MP, NW and WC) have plans at different procurement stages to make a dent on this long-standing backlog.
• Other provinces, due to financial constraints, are unable to procure additional furniture.
• These provinces (MP, GP) are address the problem by fixing broken desks, chairs and tables.

Provision of mobile classrooms
• Provinces have a backlog to address overcrowding in schools.
• To ensure social distancing in the classroom, provinces, where financial resources allow, have provided schools with mobile classrooms as an interim measure.
• All provinces have provided mobile classrooms (see table for mobile classroom provision)
• Mobile classroom is at an advance stage or being delivered in GP, KZN, LP, NC, NW, WC.
• Mobile classrooms is an interim measure and is not cost effective.
• Constructing brick and mortar classrooms is more cost-effective but long-term.
• Some provinces are considering community facilities (churches) to ease overcrowding.

Intervention for KZN damaged/vandalised education infrastructure
• Districts have reported minor and major damages in different schools.
• KZN has started a verification process to confirm extent of assistance needed.
• Damages and losses in Umlazi, Pinetown, Ugu, King Cetshwayo, Umgungundlovu, Harry Gwala, Zululand, Uthukela, Amajuba, Umzinyathi, Umkhanyakude and Ilembe districts.
• 137 institutions were damaged and/or looted:
- 8 are Circuit Management Centre (CMC) Offices;
- 3 are Education Support Centres;
- 126 are schools/learning centres.
• Costed damage and losses report will be completed shortly.
• The damage and loss of property included:
- Damage to physical property includes: Burning of classrooms and administration buildings; Breaking doors and windows; Damaging school furniture; Damaging fencing;  Cutting electrical cables Looting (theft of property), which includes: Electronic equipment (computers, photocopying machines, TV sets, alarm systems); Kitchen resources and equipment (stoves, fridges, microwaves, eating utensils); School nutrition programme equipment and food items; COVID-19 essentials (sanitisers, soap, masks); Building materials (bricks, cement); Water tanks, and furniture
• There is a detailed assessment of the extent of damages and vandalism in each of the 126 schools, as well a detailed list of stolen property.
• Out of 126 schools:
- In Pinetown District, Siphosethu Primary lost 3 classrooms;
- In Umgungundlovu District, Sikhululiwe School lost 8 classrooms;
- In Ilembe District, Radha Roopsingh Primary School lost 7 classrooms.
• KZN province intervention to support schools to receive learners for third term include:
- Procurement of 18 mobile classrooms for distribution to the three schools;
- Deliveries started on 23 July 2021 and will be completed over the July 24-25 weekend.
- Procurement for 20 stoves to prepare food for learners, which were stolen;
- These will be distributed to schools from July 23 to 25.
• When schools reopen, KZN Education Department will send monitors to check school functionality in highly affected areas.

DBE Intervention for Gauteng Unrest Damage
• Targeting of schools by criminals in COVID-19 lockdown had negative impact on infrastructure.
• In lockdown (Mar 2020-Jul 2021) 401 Gauteng schools affected by arson, vandalism, break-ins
• 51 schools affected in 2021 academic year.
• In all burglaries, learner and teaching equipment stolen together with ICT items.
• Common targets are administration blocks and nutrition centres.
• Tshwane largely affected by arson/break-ins, especially Tshwane West & North Districts
• Johannesburg worst affected by burglaries/vandalism in Sedibeng West & Ekurhuleni
• Arson attacks have extensive damage to facilities requiring replacement or restoration
• Break-ins cause damage to roof, windows, door entry points and burglar proofing
• Vandalism includes removal of electrical components, plumbing, sanitary fittings
• Damages and losses in eight districts: Gauteng East, Gauteng West, Johannesburg Central, Johannesburg North, Johannesburg South, Johannesburg West, Sedibeng East, Tshwane West.
• 14 schools were damaged and/or looted: 2 schools in Gauteng East; 1 schools in Gauteng West; 3 schools in Johannesburg Central; 1 schools in Johannesburg North; 2 schools in Johannesburg South; 1 schools in Johannesburg West; 1 schools in Sedibeng East; 3 schools in Tshwane West.
• The cost of damage is estimated at R 40.5 million.
• Damage and loss of property included:
- Damage to physical property (8 schools) including to electric wiring; admin blocks; doors; roof and ceiling; ablution facilities and sanitary fittings.
- Looting: Theft of property (7 schools). Stolen property includes laptops, computers, projectors, display screens, sound system, routers, furniture (mostly tables), wires, transformer tables, lights, garden equipment (see document).

Repairs to vandalised schools
- 31 or 61% out of the 51 schools are complete;
- Completion for the remaining work is scheduled for the opening of schools.
- Estimated costs for the 51 schools is at R 47 million
- Vandalism costs not planned and budgeted in 2021/22 infrastructure provision plans;
- Additional funding and resources re-prioritisation required to address affected schools;
- Work to be addressed through the existing maintenance framework contract;
- However, all schools are ready for all learners when third term begins as there is not extensive structural damage.

DBE monitoring school readiness
Graphics showed school readiness per province rated for 14 dashboard indicators (see document):
Facilities; Adequate water; Sanitation; Basic sanitation and hygiene packages; Special schools; Number of infrared thermometers; Learner transport; School Nutrition Programme; Number of screeners; Educators and non-educators; Provision of COVID-19 essentials; Psychosocial Support to Learners and Staff; Quality of Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC); Communication.

DBE addressing the impact of violence and looting in schools
Dr Granville Whittle, DBE DDG: Educational Enrichment Services, presented.
• Sector faced with increased vandalism, arising from community protests and COVID-19 third wave. KZN and GP gravely impacted
• President has condemned the ongoing violence, looting and destruction of property.
• Protests and looting affecting 137 KZN schools and offices – one school in Pinetown burnt to the ground. GP has 4 schools affected but no major structural damage.
• Still repairing 1700 schools damaged during COVID-19 lockdown – major cost to the state.
• Looting mostly ICT and admin equipment as well as food for NSNP.

Statistics on School Vandalism and Progress (see document)

Critical Education Actors
- Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) for galvanisation of stakeholders;
- Education Management and Governance Development for reaffirmation of school governance and leadership through School Governing Bodies (SGBs);
- School Safety for the emphasis on a violence-free school community;
- Education Infrastructure for the protection of school building assets;
- NSNP for alternative arrangements where school feeding would be disrupted;
- Social Cohesion and Equity to drive a nation-building agenda through social compacts;
- Communication for effective call-to-action messaging.

The Strategic Approach and Objectives were outlined.

Project Steering Committee
• National Steering Committee: unions, SGB associations, civil society and other departments.
• DBE to provide overall strategic leadership, and coordinate project plan implementation.
• Provincial education departments (PEDs) to replicate the Steering Committee per province
• QLTC to strengthen and support local structures at school, circuit, ward and district levels.

 Programme Design
• Proactive national initiative – initially targeting hotspot provinces (KZN and GP).
• Direct engagements with local communities and leadership structures.
• Inter-governmental cooperation particularly security cluster, intelligence sharing through participation in Natjoints and Provjoints.
• Alignment with existing government initiatives.
• Prioritise interventions supporting young people, peace-building, social cohesion, anti-racism, nation-building and solidarity.
• A leadership role for the QLTC.

An immediate response
Dr Whittle added that some of the items on the list had already been done.
• Education stakeholders to participate in cleaning up of affected communities.
• Support the clean-up of affected schools in particular.
• Call for release of all arrested school children to the custody of their parents/guardians – limit the contact of first offenders with the criminal justice system.
• Support relief to affected communities – call on school communities to donate food.
• Support food security initiatives and ensure NSNP is operational by start of third term.
• Support rebuilding efforts through the Solidarity Fund and other sources.
• Take necessary measures to ensure schools in high-risk areas are safe-guarded such as the additional patrols in 175 schools in WC and adopt-a-cop in GP.

• Communicate a positive message of possibility and the importance of schooling.
• Implementation of the Social Cluster Communication Plan in partnership with GCIS.
• Media briefings with key stakeholders.
• Revival of community imbizos and community dialogues.
• Provision of communications resources (print, radio, digital, social media).

• A call to action for all provinces and stakeholders to partner with DBE to engage all communities to defend education and protect our schools.

KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education briefing
Mr Kwazi Mshengu, KZN Education MEC, noted that the impact of the unrest “completely collapsed” the KZN DoE’s matric intervention programme known as the winter programme. It had to cancel everything to prioritise the safety of educators and learners.

The infrastructure damage adds onto the already-existing backlog of schools that have been damaged in the past by criminal elements and by inclement weather conditions, which it has not been able to repair due to shortage of funds. The budget cuts over the years have made things worse for KZN DoE. Its budget is R6.3 billion less this financial year, which means that most items it hoped to proceed with have had to be kept in abeyance.

KZN DoE is under pressure from Treasury to reduce its headcount of 6 100 posts, of which 2 200 are educators. It says it is not possible to reduce educators; it needs more educators. Members would have heard the public complaints from schools and stakeholders that there are insufficient teachers in KZN schools. It is unable to put in substitute educators as there is nothing left to cater for substitutes. There are schools where a teacher has gone on maternity leave, and learners are then left with no teacher in class. That all boils down to budget cuts. If cuts continue, then it will be a case of “basically collapsing the sector”, because without a teacher in class, there is no education. South Africa should really prioritise and protect education because the future of the country depends on a literate population. Without education, it will not have people who have the necessary skills in demand for the economy.

KZN DoE is greatly affected by social distancing as primary school learners have returned to full capacity. It will make submissions to DBE as it is clear that some schools that are not coping. It is unable to provide enough mobile classrooms as there are not enough funds. There are also schools where there is not enough space to erect mobile classrooms. These are the challenges KZN DoE will be engaging the National Office to obtain more guidance on dealing with this.

Dr Barney Mthembu, KZN DoE Acting Head of Department, presented the briefing.
• Before schools reopened, it received information about the vandalisation of schools and offices
• Schools and education centres have been looted and vandalized causing costly damages at a time when budget cuts have created financial challenges
• The KZN Education Districts have reported both minor and major damage. Schools reported the 137 schools to district offices. Provincial and District Works Inspectors did a  physical verification process and ended up with 144 schools
• The province has costed the damage and found that there are 130 schools with repairs which will cost less than R500 000. The other 14 schools will cost more than R500 000 to repair.

Institutions Affected
• 144 schools, 8 Education Circuit Management Offices and 3 Education centres were damaged
• There were loses of school property and damage of infrastructure including the classrooms
• The cost of damage is estimated to be R100.362 million
• A costed damage report showed that some schools can be repaired in a short period of time but some of them can be a matter of a year
• Damage did not stop school re-opening in KZN and some schools were given mobile classrooms
• Criminal cases were reported to the South African Police Service.
• Details were provided on the Circuit Offices and Education Centres
• Details were provided on the Secondary, Primary and Combined Schools affected showing the district, school name and number of learners enrolled at the school.

 Dr Mthembu added that when people burn a school, they are not just dealing with a school as an institution, but are “crippling the future of so many learners”; this was the reason DoE showed the number of learners enrolled.

Common School Property Affected: damage of roofs; damaged toilets; damage of and stolen school doors; theft of copper and electricity pipes; theft of building material; computers stolen; damage of school fences; stolen and broken windows; largely burnt schools; theft of school nutrition equipment and foodstuffs

Availability Of Classrooms
• Structural damage in the majority of schools was manageable (broken windows, doors etc.)
• Of 144 schools, three schools had lost 18 classrooms due to arson
• KZN has procured 18 mobile classrooms for distribution to the three schools
• Deliveries started on 23 July 2021 and were completed over the weekend.
• NSNP cooking utensils and stoves: details were provided about replacements.

Budget Requirements
• The province calculated the cost of repairing the damage in the 12 education districts
• The preliminary estimate for 144 schools is R100.362 million to remedy the damage at a minimal scale for 2021/22 and the burnt schools will be repaired within the MTEF subject to funding
• There were 130 schools with a cost estimate below R500 000 and 14 schools with a cost estimate above R500 000.
• KZN DoE is engaging DBE for the budget for rehabilitation of vandalised/looted schools.
• Details about the procurement approach were provided (see document).

Dr Mthembu noted that there is a correlation between the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) provision of gadgets in schools and the rate of vandalism as well as NSNP kitchen equipment.

Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) on unrest damage and school readiness
Mr Edward Mosuwe, GDE HOD, noted that the MEC was unable to be in the meeting due to a medical appointment. Mr Albert Chanee, DDG: Strategic Planning Management, GDE presented.

Damages During Unrest
• Targeting of schools by criminals in COVID-19 lockdown had negative impact on infrastructure.
• Since lockdown (Mar 2020-Jul 2021) 401 schools affected by arson, vandalism and break-ins
• 54 schools have been affected in 2021 with 14 of them during July social unrest
• In all the burglaries, learner and teaching equipment and ICT items have been stolen
• Common targets are administration blocks for ICT equipment and nutrition centres for food items.
In Gauteng all township high schools are benefitting from ICT so there is a large roll-out in schools.  

Infrastructure Update - Vandalised Schools in 2021
• 54 schools have been affected by vandalism since the beginning of the 2021
• 22 cases reported since schools closed in June 2021
• 15 or 29% of the 51 schools have been affected more than once (repeat incidents).
• None of the schools were not functional as a result of vandalism.
• Repairs to vandalised schools: 33 or 65% out of the 51 schools are complete.
• Completion for the remaining work is scheduled for the opening of schools.
• Estimated costs for the 54 schools is R53 million
• Vandalism costs not budgeted for in 2021/22 plans for infrastructure provision.
• Additional funding and re-prioritisation of resources is required to address this
• Work to be addressed through the existing maintenance framework contract.

School infrastructure vandalism during Social Unrest Period
• 20 cases reported since schools closed in June 2021.
• 14 (73%) of the 20 schools occurred in 8 – 17 July social unrest period in the province
• 16 (84%)  are no-fee paying schools situated in townships.
• Theft of electrical wiring fittings constitute 70% of overall damage to schools.
• Rehabilitation and replacement costs for the 14 schools are estimated at R38 million.
• 6 schools are still being assessed and will be costed
• Tables detailed the schools, nature of damages and estimated cost of repairs (see document)
• Photos were shown of some damaged schools with notes on the nature of the damage.
Mr Chanee added that in some instances where the GDE had been piloting plastic taps, even the plastic taps had been stolen. The GDE was concerned with the level of theft, as it was not simply related to damage; it is planned out and orchestrated in many cases.
• List and map detailed hotspots in Gauteng based on reported unrest and Provjoints:
- Sedibeng West District - KwaMasiza and Sebokeng Hostel
- Ekurhuleni North District - Sethoga Hostel and Vusimuzi Hostel (Thembisa)
- JHB Central District - Jabulani and Dube Hostels, Denver
- Ekurhuleni South District - Nguni Hostel
- JHB East District - MBA, George Goch Hostels

Preventative Measures
• GDE, Department of Community Safety, SAPS and Community Police Board are mobilising the community to provide support to the schools.
• SAPS had linked schools to officers in local police stations in form of the Adopt-a-Cop Programme which is not entirely effective. GDE has requested:
- Police visibility
- Linking with nearer SAPS Police stations
- Police patrols during evenings
• Piloting Armed Security
- GDE, Gauteng Department of Community Safety, SAPS and Community Police Board are working on School Safety Plan to linking the high priority schools to cluster armed response teams to respond to alerts provided electronically. This is a costly exercise
- The armed response teams to conduct consistent 24/7 monitoring of high priority schools
- Project Management Team of 5 members is responsible for day-to-day running of the project.
• Community Involvement
- For a very long time, community involvement in the protection of schools has been limited to the deployment of patrollers at the exclusion of the broader community. “Education is a societal matter” therefore the protection of the schools cannot be left to government alone.
- Massive Communication Campaign themed: “You touch our schools, you are touching the future of our children”. This Campaign should be led by CPFs at different levels.
• Patrollers: GDE, led by Gauteng Department of Safety and Security and CPF, has deployed over 7 500 patrollers to township and high-risk schools. Schools rely on minimum security support in the form of patrollers. Details were provided on the role of patrollers (see document).

Gauteng School Readiness for Reopening
Mr Chanee said that 92 to 93% of GDE staff had been vaccinated. 9 581 were not vaccinated. This was mainly due to documentation issues between what was on the documentation and electronic vaccination database system (EVDS). GDE has a “soft arrangement” with the Department of Health to reduce the 9 581 figure further. This number was also made up of people who had opted not to be vaccinated for various reasons. GDE will continue servicing schools to ensure that it gets a full sense of the coverage. Mr Chanee thought that the GDE was satisfied that it got a high level of coverage amongst educators in Gauteng public schools.

Readiness for the Resumption of Learning – 26 July 2021
A graphic detailed this readiness using a COVID-19 prevention toolbox.

Infrastructure – Facilities, Water and Sanitation
Basic Services Provision – Water Delivery
• 67 Schools not connected to bulk water supply are provided with tanks and water is delivered.
• 11 schools with additional capacity requirements, these schools have been provided with elevated water tanks for water delivery.
• Letters prepared for Executive Mayors of Municipalities with areas identified to have low-water pressure challenges for municipal support.
• These 78 schools are divided into 3 clusters for water deliveries three times a week during term.

Basic Services Provision – Sanitation
Table outlined what is being done about schools requiring temporary emergency sanitation provision, schools requiring maintenance works for rehabilitation of ablution facilities, and temporary emergency sanitation.

Infrastructure Update - Vandalised Schools in 2021 (see page 33 for details)

Addressing Maintenance Challenges (see page 34 for details)
• Infrastructure challenges reported have been categorized for specialized interventions.
• Schools remain to be targeted in criminal activities including vandalism and burglaries.

Returning all learners to primary schools and spacing
• Based on advice from Minister of Health – primary schools can return all learners
- Primary grades are being prioritised to compensate for learning losses and accelerate learning
• Classroom Configuration – Optimal usage of spaces
- The national SOPs do not prescribe 1m spacing but promote the principle of striving for a 1m distance where possible
• If 1 metre spacing was implemented, over 507 township schools would have to remain on a rotational basis due to high enrolment in primary schools.
• Return of all learners requires the enforcement of all non-pharmaceutical interventions: Wearing of masks; Frequent hand washing and sanitisation; Frequent cleaning of toilets; Daily cleaning of classrooms; Use of disinfectants on commonly used surfaces; Control access to schools and classrooms; Reduction of non-essential visitors to schools

School Nutrition
• Standard Operating Procedures
- As part of the induction process the volunteer food handlers (VFHs) were taken through the SOPs on management of food preparation and serving. VFHs have tested positive and there was also a fatality, hence the vaccination of the VFHs is much appreciated
• Procurement and delivery of groceries
- Groceries will be delivered to schools on 23 and 24 July 2021 in preparation for third term
• Details were provided on SOPs for serving / eating of  meals and monitoring
- 32 monitors contracts have been extended.
- 1 545 562 learners benefit from the NSNP in 1 299 schools

Learner Transport
• In line with the National Directions, all transport modes (buses, taxis, private cars) to carry learners will be at full capacity
• Currently buses and taxis can load at 100% capacity subject to compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions and COVID-19 regulations which were detailed.
• Learner Transport programme ferrying 174 074 learners in all 15 districts (164 852 primary, secondary and 4 605 learners at special education needs schools)

Youth Brigades 2021 Rollout Screeners and Bus Monitors
GDE decided to reprioritise funding to employ youth brigades as screeners and bus monitors as they are critical to its approach. The application process and allocation to schools was detailed.
Every school will get at least two people, and one additional person for every 300 learners.

Managing Comorbidities
• 2989 educator substitutes were approved and allocated to schools
• 1305 cleaner substitutes were approved and allocated to schools
• GDE has put the following in place:
- Where a school post becomes vacant, a substitute is required to replace an educator absent for more than 10 days (previously 20 days and more)
- The replacement will be done immediately from available resources on Funza Lushaka database or unemployed educators database available both at a provincial and national level.
• Lockdown Level 4 allows for concession applications for teachers with comorbidities and Alert Level 1 will require comorbidity teachers to return to work
• Programmatic extension for rotational teachers from 1 July to 31 Dec 2021.

PPE Distribution and Delivery Status - this was itemised in detail. 

Psychosocial Support
• The World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates a major pandemic implies a psychosocial disturbance that may exceed the population’s capacity to handle the situation.
• GDE is working with Department of Social Development and NGOs (Childline, SADAG) to provide counselling to learners affected by the pandemic
• Psychosocial Training has taken place and will continue for educators and school-based support teams on how to identify when someone needs help. Reporting of cases as per DBE protocols on both learner positive cases and fatalities

Special Schools
• All 125 schools are ready for 100% learner attendance on 26 July 2021
- This means learners from age 3 to 21 will return of whom some are CAPS Grades R – 12
- Currently all learners in CAPS Grades 11 and 12 as well as TOC Year 4 are at school
• However, 92 of the 125 Special Schools will not receive all learners due to challenges:
- Parental choice to keep learners with severe intellectually disabilities or physical disabilities.
- Parents concerned about safety of learners due to 3rd wave of COVID and unrest.
• The following challenges are being addressed:
- District support for acting principals is required in schools where principals have passed away or  still struggling with COVID-19
- Impact of COVID-19 on available staff at schools and hostels will challenge ability of the school to accommodate 100% of learner given increased comorbidities in learners with special needs.

Curriculum Management
• Support programmes to migrate primary school learners back to the traditional timetabling with a recovery plan for learning losses
- Annual teaching plans mediated to all the district officials and schools in the 15 districts
- 3 000 SMT supported on curriculum management and leadership through training on Module 4 of Kha Ri Ambe to strengthen onsite support
- Guidance provided to schools to support rotational learning
- Remote learning programmes provided to schools to strengthen learning on days learners not attending due to rotational time-tabling. DBE workbook is a key resource for home learning, schools were provided with lists of zero- rated website and Tswelopele TV schedule
• Appropriate interventions developed to address gaps and learning losses in all subjects
- Target Schools visits conducted, schools with huge learning losses prioritized for support and differentiated support provided.
- School visits classified into two categories were conducted weekly across all 15 districts: programme school visits and oversight visits. Oversight visits prioritized underperforming schools and schools with huge learning losses identified through the use of baseline assessments. Programme school visits entail support of schools that are implementing various programmes

Assessment and Examinations
Requirements and tasks will be circulated to all schools
- Grade 1-3 learners provided with English FAL and Mathematics standardised assessment tasks
- Grade 4-9 learners received standardised tests in Mathematics, NSTECH, English FAL, SS
- Grade 10-12 learners provided with previously set examination papers, exemplars and registered online to access assessment material for revision
• HODs will be trained on implementation of assessment for learning (Formative Assessment)
• School will be visited to support implementation of formative assessment in classroom in Term 3
• Strengthened home work activities: learners will have opportunity to complete outstanding tasks
• Guideline will be released to guide schools on how to manage recording and reporting of learner performance in Government Gazette 36041, which provides guidance on how to recalculate missing tasks with valid reason/s
• Grade 12 learners who missed school based tests will have opportunity to write when in Term 3
• Schools encouraged to apply for assessment concessions and accommodations in Grade 1-11
• Expanded opportunities to be granted to those who are struggling with content and skills.
• Teachers empowerment on how to give constructive, developmental, timely feedback so parents can assist learners at home.

• Grade 12 interventions
- 2021 Senior Secondary Intervention Programme (SSIP) revised Annual Teaching Plans (ATPs) and closing the 2020 content gaps in the priority subjects.
- Special material was developed per subject per category of learners
- GDE successfully implemented walk-in camps during Term 1. SSIP programme implemented successfully for 15 Saturdays between March and June 2021 with 88% average attendance
- Walk-in camps have been running from 5 to 17 July per centre.
- Over 81 000 learners attended the camps
- Residential camps will continue in September 2021 depending on lockdown
- GDE will implement special seven-day camps for Maths, Tech Maths & Science, P/Science and Natural Science Grade 10 and 12 through the MST grant programme for consolidation and revision
- Details were given on “last push” revision strategies.

School Readiness in Gauteng: DBE Assessment of 14 dashboard indicators (see page 65)

DBE School Readiness update (gazetted Sunday 1 August 2021):
• Assumptions for full return of learners was 1m spacing would not be applicable but there would be enforcement of non-pharmaceutical interventions (masks and sanitization)
• The latest directions prescribe 1m spacing in primary schools. This implies that not all schools can return to traditional daily timetabling as some schools will not be able to comply
• Schools to apply for a deviation by 6 August – approval by HOD
• As soon as possible Education MEC of a province unable to comply with return of the traditional daily-attendance timetabling model must submit a report on non-compliance to Minister for concurrence or further determination, which the report must include –
- reasons for non-compliance;
- plan with the proposed dates for return to daily attendance timetable which details the steps taken in each school to ensure learners are able to return safely to school;
- providing fortnightly progress on implementation of the plans to DBE
• GDE has directed districts to monitor return of schools on 2 August and assess compliance in high enrolment schools and to develop a plan with schools to achieve a full return of all learners. This would include:
- A return to rotation while alternate plans are developed and implemented
- The alternate plans should:
• Look at using underutilised classrooms at neighbouring schools
• Assess the feasibility of using community structures
• Assess the feasibility of providing pre-fabricated classrooms
• Provide additional furniture if it will assist
• Develop a curriculum delivery plan to compensate for rotation
• Consider online and remote learning to support learners at home
• GDE is currently receiving and assessing the Day 1 reports.

Mr B Nodada (DA) said the Committee must completely condemn the criminal behaviour seen in the past few weeks, particularly at schools. Schools are supposed to be sources of community pride that people look after, and we must never condone or promote such behaviour despite what people might be going through. There is no justification to destroy schools because it costs too much to rebuild.

Could DBE state from the start of COVID-19 lockdown until now, what the cost of vandalism of schools has been? What will it cost DBE to repair the schools in all provinces that have been vandalised? He had previously asked the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) as the custodian of all school buildings, what mechanisms are in place to insure those buildings. The response he got at the time was that government is a self-insurer. There is seemingly no blanket plan to protect existing buildings. What programmes will be put in place to ensure that government engages with the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Community Police Forums (CPFs) and communities to educate them about protecting their own property and allocating the necessary security support?

Mr Nodada was aware that government could not afford private security across the board. But there needs to be a mechanism in place, at circuit or district level, where existing infrastructure is able to be protected. What is the cost-benefit analysis on money spent on repairing vandalised schools versus the cost of protecting or insuring schools, so that government does not have to rebuild, knowing that money is not there?

On the reopening of schools, how many schools has DBE identified that are closed, semi-open, or fully operational? With rotational learning, South Africa has already lost about 75% of curriculum coverage. Has there been research on international best practice on how to make up for curriculum lost time? South Africa is not going to catch up overnight, but there needs to be a plan in place to try and catch up. For the matric exams, has DBE considered using community halls in districts to have joint efforts to tutor and mentor and cover curriculum lost ground?

There was a teacher vaccination programme, which the Committee appreciates, having requested this for some time. With the full reopening of primary schools, there are  concerns because many schools have overcrowding. This was already insufficient infrastructure and now property has been destroyed. What is the DBE plan to ensure primary and ECD schools are fully open, as advised by the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC), without restrictions so that schools are able to cover the curriculum?

Gauteng faces a R38 million cost for repairs of vandalised schools. It spoke about repeated vandalism at 370 schools in Gauteng. If GDE has identified the hotspots, what has it done to deploy the necessary support to ensure those school properties are secure? He asked about the effectiveness of the Adopt-a-Cop programme. There are allegations that many schools are awaiting SAPS case numbers which means nothing has been done about them. What different approach is GDE going to take due to the repeat attacks on those schools in hotspot areas. GDE identified learning loss interventions in Gauteng and  mentioned oversight visits, among other things. What is the actual intervention for catching up on the curriculum? There is mention of standardised tests, but how will the curriculum be covered efficiently based on that?

The KZN repairs are over R100 million, just on repairs, which is ridiculous, considering that KZN still has districts that have ‘inappropriate structures’. What plans does KZN DoE have in place to ensure that schools have sufficient security to protect infrastructure from vandalism, theft and looting? Does it have a particular plan about which the Committee can make meaningful contributions? There were no plans to ensure that repeat vandalism did not take place. What is the KZN number of schools with repeat incidents of vandalism; where are the hotspots in KZN? Can KZN DoE indicate what plans are being implemented in these hotspot areas? Is it educating the communities about protecting their schools? What programmes are in place so that people take ownership of these buildings because they are there to serve their children.

Mr Nodada asked both Gauteng and KZN departments to give the total number of learners affected by the July 2021 vandalisation of 144 KZN schools and 15 Gauteng schools.

Mr Nodada recommended that the Committee conduct oversight visits to vandalised schools, since teachers and support staff have been vaccinated and there is a full reopening of primary schools. The focus can be on KZN and Gauteng. He requested DBE have a joint intervention with DPWI on the safety and security plan for schools, particularly in hotspots. DBE could work with CPFs, SAPS, insurance companies, private security companies, and bring people around the table to talk about how to ensure existing infrastructure is protected in a cost-effective way considering the budget cuts.  There needs to be a plan in place to ensure that existing infrastructure is not destroyed. It will cost more to rebuild schools.

He wanted to ask the Minister about those schools that have reopened, and had indicated that they had overcrowding, but could not accommodate more than 50 learners in a classroom because of the regulations, despite the advice from the MAC that primary schools and ECDs must reopen based on the fact that they are not affected as much regarding COVID-19. What will be done about that? The proposal is that the Committee look into that and have a firm way forward, so that primary schools and ECDs can fully reopen, noting that they are not “entirely affected”. Could the Department look at a circuit-based approach on getting to use community halls and other public facilities as a platform where learners can catch up on critical subjects, or subjects identified by that particular sector, and get extra classes so that the curriculum can be covered, and engage the necessary stakeholders to ensure that there is some form of trying to catch up on what has been lost. There is a need for community programmes on vandalism and infrastructure safety and security, that need to be implemented in these particular hotspots. That is something that needs to be considered, along with thinking about how best to work with the different stakeholders.

Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) said that both the national and provincial presentations on the level of readiness were encouraging. The presentations were giving the Committee direction on what to do next. They will not allow this to die in their hands. The reports from KZN and Gauteng on the break-ins and vandalism accompanied by theft must be condemned. He supported Mr Nodada's proposal for an oversight visit to those schools affected by vandalism and break-ins. To start, the Committee can go to KZN, as it is most affected. This cannot be postponed.

Mr Moroatshehla said that the Committee must release a statement on the vandalism, hooliganism, primitive and barbaric acts that have happened as already condemned by various educational structures. The Committee had heard the voices of teacher unions, SGBs, progressive community structures such as the CPFs. As the Committee, it had been vested with a responsibility to issue one of the strongest statements of condemnation of these “barbaric acts”. He called it barbarism because any person “rising up to destroy what he or she will need tomorrow; that is barbarism”.

On the wholesale return of primary school grade, the Committee must commend the Department for acting wisely. He appreciated that DBE had come up with a waiver. One cannot have a one-size-fits-all. He had often said that no two schools are the same. Some schools are victims of overpopulation. DBE's view is it is not enough to sit in a boardroom; when all primary school grades return on 1 August, one goes to see for oneself if that is really feasible. The pandemic is still very much alive and continues to claim many lives. This time around, it is regardless of age. To pack kids like pumpkins in one class may not assist at the end of the day. We may find ourselves having to pay a heavy price. Based on the oversight visit recommendation and its media statement, the Committee will communicate that it is serious, not only about the lives of learners but also their welfare and the conditions under which they work.

Ms D van der Walt (DA) thanked the education department staff, teachers, parents and learners during this difficult time who go for vaccinations, try to go to school or be taught at home or via online methods. South Africa finds itself in a very critical situation. DBE should acknowledge that they are not fully recovered from similar incidents. She named the 2016 Vuwani riot in Limpopo, where schools were burnt and vandalised. In a question she asked the Minister earlier this year, the reply was in 2019, 957 schools in South Africa were vandalised. In 2020, it almost doubled to 1 633 schools and 148 schools were vandalised from January to March 2021. The total number of schools vandalised during the lockdown period was 1 716 schools. The number has reached about 2 000 schools vandalised now, which is putting the teaching of children very far behind. Does the Department have a safety and security master plan to protect the existing school infrastructure? She asked if DBE had looked into the possible amalgamation of schools affected now and through a well-informed study establish how it is going to be fixed and what the total cost will be.

With the 1 metre apart protocol during COVID-19, an ordinary classroom could take about 30 learners but what will be done with classrooms with 60, 70, 90, even 100-odd children? She did not think that every school with overcrowded classrooms could go back to a rotational basis as what would happen to the curriculum? She was disappointed that DBE would present the COVID-19 protocols and say that some schools or provinces are still busy with procuring masks.

If one looks at the damage to infrastructure, and the 75% or in some cases, 100% loss of curriculum and teaching time, then one would want to know if DBE has made a study on how this will impact dropout statistics. It is “unavoidable” that South Africa would see an increase in its dropout statistics later in the year. She wanted to know if the Department had figured out something with the communities, such as an “our children, our schools” project. Government will have to get communities involved to protect their schools. South Africa had the Presidential project earlier, which has now come to a halt. With the huge load put on educators on a daily basis, would it not be wise to get that project going again to get assistance to the teachers, so they can spend their time in classrooms teaching learners and catching up on the very important curriculum, in which South Africa is very far behind.

She asked if the Committee Chairperson would host a joint sitting with DBE, DPWI, SAPS, Intelligence so these parties can talk about protecting infrastructure with workable, implementable measures because there is a huge need and a huge lack of such measures. Intelligence in South Africa is not only about protecting borders, but also to know when riots happen, so that it protects crucial services such as health and education. She asked if DBEwill engage intelligence to pay very close attention to schools based on ongoing vandalism, burglaries and theft.

GDE said that 92 out of 125 special needs schools will not receive all learners. How will GDE solve the challenges with special schools, for this very vulnerable sector? In KZN and elsewhere, from where is this money going to come? The KZN budget was cut by about R6.2 billion, with infrastructure very hard-hit. There is a need for a solid, time-bound plan. She asked about the three gutted schools: Sikhululiwe School, Radha Roopsingh Primary School Siphosethu Primary School, and Golden Steps Special School? How will KZN deal with these schools? The Department likes to say that districts will be sorting out minor repairs, but districts do not have funds. Districts have not been allocated funds for this, and they do not have funds. She was very concerned about this because education is the future of South Africa’s children, and it is also impacting on the economic future of South Africa’s people and the country itself.

Mr M Nchabeleng (ANC, Limpopo), Education Select Committee Chairperson, commented that when such theft happens and one reports the matter to the police, one is expecting assistance from the police. Part of it is recovering what is stolen, so that it can be taken back to the school at whatever level of usability it is in. This mitigates against the extra costs that government needs to bear. One needs to involve communities to recoup the stolen items. There were KZN schools that were storm-damaged some years ago. How many of those refurbished or partly reconstructed schools were impacted by looting? DBE had specific plans, as did the Committee as an oversight body. The uprisings have affected the majority of DBE plans in these two provinces, and also nationally. How has it impacted the Department’s plans and budgets? He was shocked by the “self-hatred” where people in a township burn a school where their children, brothers and sisters learn. When one is angry with somebody else, or feels that the world owes one something, one takes an axe and starts chopping off one’s limbs. It is “sick” and “disgusting”.

Ms N Mashabela (EFF) said the vaccination programme in the basic education sector had exclusion criteria for those with COVID-19 and those who took the flu vaccine. Such people were not able to be vaccinated. Is there a mop-up programme to assist those wishing to vaccinate after the official closure of the basic education sector vaccination programme? There are reports of some teachers struggling to get vaccinated. Are there updated figures of personnel vaccinated in the sector? The last figure was 517 000 had received vaccines out of 582 000.

On school readiness, where does the authority lie on the decision for all learners to return to a primary school or not? Is it the province, district or the school itself? Members had seen letters written by SGBs informing parents of what the position at a school would be. There is a need to know who is in charge. Sooner or later, when a COVID-19 outbreak happens, someone will have to be held accountable. What is the status on the general assistants and educational assistants – DBE has said that National Treasury has the final say on it? That project was stopped and left a lot of young people with diplomas and degrees stranded. These young people are needed to help schools with work, especially under COVID-19. Has DBE quantified the damages ton schools in KZN and Gauteng during the unrest? What plans will be implemented in the affected areas?

Ms M Sukers (ACDP) raised her frustration with the responses the Committee gets as Parliament from the Department. She had submitted questions to Dr Whittle’s office in December 2020, and followed up in January 2021, but she had not received an answer. She had not received replies on Durban High School, either from the DBE or from the MEC. She was aware that there was an apology from the MEC. It is the same thing the Committee had with the Western Cape. She asked if a senior political leader, such as the Premier, could be present at meetings such as this one.

In July 2020, the Committee received school readiness reports. Last year, the DG answered a Committee question on whether the Department has the capacity to innovate. The Committee still does not see that. It does not see any innovation being applied to problems that have been present for more than a year. “We need to be able to innovate, and we learn this from business”. Those kinds of responses need to be duplicated.

Ms Sukers asked about the recent DBE circular on operational requirements for school-based educators following the vaccination programme. Educators who do not want to be vaccinated have to provide a medical motivation. It has caused concern for her constituents and for the unions. What is the legal force of the circular? What is the enabling legislation that authorises the DG to issue that circular? Do the provinces have to implement the circular? The data on vaccines is still being collected on their efficacy and side effects. How can medical motivations be authoritative in such fluid circumstances? What provision is made for educators who have had COVID-19, and therefore may have natural immunity? What percentage of frontline educators have been vaccinated? DBE does not have this information. When can the Committee expect this research to be available? In Gauteng, 95% of those in the targeted population have been vaccinated, but only 65% of high-risk educators over 40 have been vaccinated. Can the DG please explain this? She requested DBE provide the educational material it uses to promote the vaccination drive. If 89% of educators have already been vaccinated and if many educators have already had COVID-19 and so have natural immunity, surely the school community-level has reached immunity? DBE may not have answers so she suggested that the Committee meet with the DBE medical advisors. She supported a Committee oversight visit to unrest regions.

Dr S Thembekwayo (EFF) asked about scholar transport. In the Lekwa District of Mpumalanga, children have been unable to go to school to date, because of a lack of transport. The transport company owner has not been paid and as a result, he decided to discontinue his services. That is a disadvantage to children. On her further enquiry with the district education office, the response was that the blame is on the public service who is the agent for DBE. The blame was then placed on the DBE official. She asked how those children could be helped with transport; they were travelling some 10 to 15 kilometres to school. She asked for a response from the Department so that she could give a report-back to the Lekwa District community in Mpumalanga.

Why does social distancing have to be reduced at schools while the Delta variant is very high in South Africa? Why have only educators received a vaccination but the poor primary school children have not been given an opportunity to be vaccinated. What is the rationale?

This morning on the radio, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in South Africa, Ms Nardos Bekele-Thomas, announced that the UN has committed to providing financial support to KZN. It is in consultation with civil society, the private sector, and the communities. The UN is sending out a technical joint team to complete the previous assessment it did. KZN DoE made mention of funding from the Solidarity Fund and others – who are the others and what is their commitment? Is the UN part of this initiative? If not, is KZN DoE prepared to engage the UN on the vandalised schools?

She said a TimesLIVE media report stated that the Gauteng Education MEC said the 2022 Grade 1 class will be required to provide COVID-19 immunisation certificates for school admission. How true is this statement? Online applications for 2022 open on 10 August and close on 3 September, but South Africa does not have an opportunity for primary school children to receive a vaccination. [Dr Thembekwayo later informed the Committee that the statement was incorrectly captured by the media. The MEC did not say COVID-19 vaccination. The online registration requirement for Grade 1 is that new entrants into the system are required to submit an immunisation card, not a COVID-19 vaccination card. The immunisation card reflects the inoculations received from birth to date.]

Ms N Adoons (ANC) appreciated the briefings. She sent her condolences to the families of Members of Parliament who lost lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also to the families of those who lost their lives during the unrest. When the Minister spoke, she mentioned the 1m distance that she was still going to engage on with the NCCC for its response. This has been a concern since schools reopened on 2 August. The Committee would await the response of the NCCC and the Minister on this.

On curriculum coverage, could DBE give a comparison of the two curricula of 2020 and 2021. Is there any progress? Is the Department winning with the strategies and plans in place? She agreed that the Committee must go on oversight visits to those two provinces to check on the damage done during the unrest. The Committee must have meaningful dialogues with the communities. It was not only schools that were affected – it was also households and businesses. There needs to be social cohesion dialogues to check how the Committee can contribute in engaging with communities to find a common ground. It seems that the “root cause of apartheid is still with us”. There are racial tensions; there are racial murders where people are being killed for the colour of their skin. There is a message circulating on social media of a young man who was brutally murdered for being black this past Saturday for being black and "hitting on" an Indian girl. These things are continuing, and “show a very ugly face that we don’t need in this country”.

She appreciated the work done by community members and civil society at large to protect schools, businesses and malls. There were only a few Gauteng schools reported as being vandalised during the unrest. But when one checks from January, there are more than 51 schools. Under normal circumstances, schools are still being vandalised. The Committee must applaud communities for standing up for the school infrastructure in their area. When the Committee goes for oversight it needs to have those engagements to encourage working in unison with all stakeholders to curb vandalism. This vandalism is taking South Africa backwards; there is a lot of money that could have been used for other items such as ICT that needs to be upgraded. It is still stuck having schools repaired each term when schools reopen because of vandalism. Gauteng had reported on criminal cases. She asked KZN to report on the criminal cases opened when schools were vandalised. She also asked DBE if it had such reports, and if there was any progress in arresting such perpetrators.

Ms Adoons proposed the Committee do oversight next week starting with KZN, then Gauteng. Schools had already reopened, and there were reports of schools that were very badly affected. The Committee also has to go for oversight in the Western Cape. There are very serious racial tensions that have been happening for a long time in the Western Cape; recently, there have been farm evictions. One asks oneself how learners are affected when people on farms are evicted. There was violence with taxi operators – how is that affecting people, especially children who have to attend school using that form of transport? She asked if the Committee could have an oversight visit in the week of the 18 August to check on the Western Cape.

Mr E Siwela (ANC) supported the proposal for the oversight visit. Ever since he joined the Basic Education Committee, school vandalism, budget cuts, storm-damaged schools have been topical issues. These are problems facing the sector. From his observations, he had never heard of a comprehensive policy from DBE to deal decisively with school vandalism. What is often said is that SGBs should work with their communities to protect their schools. For quite some time, this has proven to be ineffective except when the recent unrest took place and communities came together and protected their infrastructure. It did work this time around. However, is it known who are the brains behind school vandalism? If it is known, where are those people?

KZN DoE raised the budget cut, and that it was forced to lay off staff, including teachers. More often, one would speak of school overcrowding. Now, if these budget cuts continue, and big provinces like KZN are forced to lay off staff, how will they cope with the ever-increasing learners in their schools? Perhaps the policymakers and decision makers in the departments live on a “different planet” than the one that KZN finds itself on. If those departments do, they would not force schools to lay off staff. Yet it is said publicly and boldly that education is an apex priority. “We must not just put lip service to that; we have to do what we are saying”.

In Mpumalanga, it was reported that DBE was buying only 21 mobile classrooms. In his constituency, there are four storm-damaged schools, and two of the schools had a whole block of four classrooms blown away. The other one had eight blown away. These 21 mobile classrooms cannot correct the problem at schools, let alone in Mpumalanga where there are similar problems. If government works like that, is it really serious about righting the wrongs, and repairing and replacing schools, so that learners can learn in a conducive environment, and teachers are able to do their work? He proposed that policymakers and decision makers should visit these schools and see for themselves what the Committee is talking about, so they are fully informed about the conditions on the ground, rather than making decisions of continual budget cuts that exacerbate the problems.

The Chairperson said that the Committee condemns the criminality that happened in both provinces. The Committee must put it very clearly to its communities that that is not how communities must protest. It is so unfortunate that because schools are among communities, they become the first targets. It is very important that government must give learners food, but it is wrong for communities to see that as an opportunity to steal the food and vandalise buildings when they protest. The DBE presentation was assuring that there will be water provision to schools, and there will be teaching and learning in classrooms. But in provinces such as KZN where there are mud schools, how is the Department dealing with ventilation? How is it ensuring that COVID-19 protocols are adhered to? She was in a radio interview and the two principals interviewed before her said that DBE did not think properly before deciding to take Grades 1 to 3 back to school. The principals are of the view that schools cannot cope; the COVID-19 protocols are too much to handle with the number of learners they must accept at schools. The principals said there needs to be a revision of this decision.

The National Income Dynamics Study-Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAMS) study stated that learners from seven to 17 years were not attending school, and were not in the classroom. The impression the Committee is getting is that everything is fine and that everybody is at school. She wanted to link that with the unrest in two provinces. Learners not being in school is a matter she raised with DBE in the past; “we seem not to be able to account for learners who drop out of our schools”. It is not known where these children are or what they are doing. When one sees the unrest, one is able to tell that that is where these children are; they are loitering in the streets with nothing to do. The Chairperson did not think that a child who is mature and educated would involve themselves in unrest. That is not researched; she was raising that as a layperson. It is South African learners and brothers and sisters who lack some sort of education who are doing this. These people are the ones who need to be assisted; there need to be road shows to bring them back to the classroom. There are many people in the country who are available if there is an unrest today. Such people will be “able to make our country ungovernable”. Children dropping out of schools is a matter that DBE must start to take seriously. It is a challenge that the education sector cannot account for such children and does not know what these children are doing. If the initiative is not taken to follow up, then these children “become criminals that are destroying our country”. There is a need for the Committee to do oversight, KZN and Gauteng; this must be taken as urgent. The Committee must do oversight in the Western Cape; it is an oversight visit that is long overdue, and is something that the Committee was supposed to do. She requested that the Committee support staff look into the feasibility of oversight visits.

DBE response
DBE Director General, Mr Mathanzima Mweli, remarked that the Department always comes out of these engagements richer than it was before because of the collective wisdom of the Members. There is nothing that “makes one more thrilled” than when a multi-party forum of different political parties is speaking with one voice on matters related to education. He wanted to commend both Committees for providing strategic leadership in the Basic Education sector. The Department should never fail in taking the leadership both the Select and the Portfolio Committees are giving in their observations on matters that it needs to pay attention to.

He agreed with Mr Nodada in condemning the criminal behaviour that has been seen in South Africa’s recent past, particularly the destruction of property, including schools, and so on. On the cost of vandalism since COVID-19, DBE does not have that information readily, but Mr Mweli committed in this meeting to collect that information and make it available to Mr Nodada. Mr Nodada also advised that the Department collect such information and juxtapose it with the cost involved in insuring property, which it has not done. He would ask the team to do that exercise, and provide that information to the Committee.

On mechanisms in place to protect school property, with the greatest humility he differed with Mr Siwela's observation that DBE did not have a comprehensive plan for dealing with violence and vandalism in schools. The Department had presented to the Committee at various times the National Integrated School Safety Framework. It is that framework that links a school to a police station. That framework also has the programme called Adopt-a-cop, where schools are able to get police personnel adopting individual schools, and being linked to these schools. If one asks provinces, they will tell you that this has happened. It is known that the security apparatus of the state, particularly in Gauteng and KZN, were caught unawares and were not in a position to respond to the recent looting and vandalism. The Framework has been presented several times, both in the annual performance plan (APP), and also in the annual report, which the Department will very soon present once the audits are completed. That framework is in place, and it is up to Members to tell DBE if it works or not.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) went into a huge investigation exercise after Vuwani. It said that DBE must come up with an early warning system to be able to respond and report matters to law enforcement agencies. Vandalism happens in most instances when schools are closed. He asked how early warning systems would work because DBE depends on who is there at school, and the majority of schools do not have security personnel, because DBE cannot afford that in its budget. Dr Whittle’s presentation elaborated on existing measures and what DBE is trying to strengthen to galvanise civil society and communities to try and protect schools, including mobilising communities, having a national structure, a provincial structure, and a local structure. This was in answer to what DBE does to engage communities to protect schools.

On what is the cost-benefit analysis on money spent on repairing vandalised schools versus the cost of protecting or insuring schools, DBE does not have that information. It will collect that data and make it available.

On how many schools are semi-open or closed, from the information it collects from the provinces virtually on a weekly basis, there is no school that is not open due to vandalism and so on. Vandalism in the majority of schools happened in the admin block where food and other important equipment is kept. But where buildings were burned, DBE made provision for mobile classrooms. The Committee would be aware that the Department goes to the provinces every week. Mr Mweli was in Limpopo already. There is no province that has provided the number of mobile classrooms like KZN, given the number of learners, and the number of schools that it has. When the KZN MEC said that in many instances there is no space and no land to fit mobile classrooms, he sympathised and appreciated that because he had seen those. The Department has been to rural areas such as [unclear 3:17:30], Nkandla and others where one finds these mobile classrooms. The information given to the Department by provinces is that no school has not been able to reopen due to damaged infrastructure. Provinces were able to make alternatives, either to provide alternative facilities or to redirect learners to other schools.

On research done on the recovery of lost time, there was no research on this subject to his knowledge. DBE has contributed to the body of knowledge in the world. It is documented and he can give the DBE reports on how to return learners to school during COVID-19. The Department has contributed to that body of knowledge. Even though Ms Sukers said that the Department is not creative, the Director General pointed to the fact that DBE came up with differentiated timetables, and was able to have learners write final exams in South Africa when in the UK equivalent department could not. In Kenya, exams were postponed the whole year. That achievement all comes as a result of creativity.

He mentioned the Department’s digital business processes, where he is able to sign and consider documents outside the office. That is why he is able to spend three to four days outside the office, because DBE has deployed ICT. That is an example of creativity and innovation. He did not want to purport that South Africa was leading in the world. The Department can do better. It can still put more effort into creativity. But the Department has been creative in many ways. He marvelled at what provinces are doing. He had been to communities where the primary schools are going to school on Saturday to try and cover the curriculum. That is part of the innovation and creativity happening in the system. On the use of community halls, the presentation indicated that provinces are using community halls, church facilities, and other such facilities.

Now that teachers have been vaccinated, the question was asked what is the plan to ensure that ECD centres and primary schools are fully functional. The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) has taken the decision that the Minister communicated – the Department is led by the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on Coronavirus which advises the country. Even the return of all primary school learners is not made by education officials. It is advice that comes from the MAC on Coronavirus, which is made up of paediatricians, specialists in many areas of virology and so on. The Department has got their latest advice from last week, which is signed by a co-chairs, and says that all primary schools must return to school. What the Minister is going to be part of discussing, is that they are saying if schools cannot meet the one metre distance requirement, learners must be allowed to go back to school. But schools must ensure that learners wear their mask regularly, sanitise and wash their hands. It comes from that committee.

Mr Mweli agreed that a joint collaboration between DPWI and the DBE to plan for securing schools: That is needed. Another Member had said that the Department needs to bring in intelligence, SAPS, etc. When the unrest happened in Gauteng, in forum of Directors General, Mr Mweli said that he still asked how the 28 schools in Vuwani were torched, and he still needed that report, which was which was submitted somewhere. His counterpart in intelligence said it did submit that report. It seems like these reports are being submitted but the Department does not have sight of them.

The Department will definitely have a catch-up programme for curriculum coverage. He had given an example of some primary schools that are going to school even during weekends, which should not normally happen. Children should also have enough time to rest and play. He was worried about the mental health that is very soon going to be quite apparent in South African children, teachers, and even other workers because of the pressure that is put on them to cover the curriculum, but nonetheless, they have got to be done.

He thanked Mr Moroatshehla for reminding the Department that if it fails to plan it means it is planning to fail. He thanked Mr Moroatshehla for also condemning vandalism. With issuing a statement, he was sure that the Committee Chairperson would consider that. He agreed that the return of primary school learners could not be one size fits all: The situation and the the context would differ. He thanked Ms van der Walt for reminding the Department about the 28 schools that got torched in Bhowani. Now, the number of vandalised schools have gone up to 2 000. Schools got vandalised whenever schools are on holiday, and the Department presented those figures to the Committee. The safety plan that the Department has is the National Integrated School Safety Framework that he referred to.

On school overcrowding, DBE looking at that, but it is also looking at other non-pharmaceutical interventions that would have to be enforced throughout to mitigate where learners return and are unable to meet the requirements of one metre. DBE agreed with provinces that overcrowding is a “no” because schools are going to become super spreaders.

On the provinces procuring masks, unlike 2020 where they were procuring masks for the first time, this time they are only replenishing. It is still within the required six months of use so provinces that are procuring now are not late at all. It is not about procuring what is not there, it is about replenishing and adding to their supply.

On the impact of dropouts, DBE collects this information from provinces, and provinces have indicated an average of about a 10% dropout, which is not something that is completely out of kilter. Even outside COVID-19, DBE has reported on this before. The Chairperson noted the NIDS-CRAMS study which was done by the National Income Dynamics Study together with Dr Nic Spaull. Mr Mweli had listened to Dr Spaull being interviewed on the dropout rates. The study had picked up about 700 000 learners who have not been attending schools, but Dr Spaull's response was that he needs to caution that it does not mean that those children will not return to school. With some of them it might be a temporary absence. Some of those children might be attributable to the rotational attendance of alternating days or alternating weeks, but it does not mean that they are lost in the system. The information that DBE collects virtually every week from provinces says that there is about a 10% dropout rate. The DBE new directive has provided five measures outside of a schooling system that parents can opt for including home education or online learning. When one does not see these children in class, it does not mean they are lost completely. However, the Department is concerned about the 10%, and it has to follow it up.

He agreed with Ms van der Walt’s proposal of a joint sitting with DPWI, SAPS, DBE and Intelligence on protecting schools. The Minister and Deputy Minister will consider that and will continue to pay attention to protecting schools.

He agreed with Mr Nchabeleng’s remarks. He had heard people asking if the Department knows who vandalises schools. It referred cases to the police. It is the police who need to help DBE to follow up. In some instances the police are able to make an arrest. Gauteng will tell the Committee about the cases. Gauteng had been able to arrest some people who are stealing important equipment from schools, but it cannot be expected of DBE to do that. It reports incidents to the police, and it works with the police to arrest the perpetrators.

On how many schools have been destroyed and the cost implications, Mr Mweli replied that DBE would receive that information and make it available to the Committee. He agreed with Mr Nchabeleng’s characterization of what had happened. He agreed that it can only be attributable to self-hatred.

On the teachers who were COVID-19 positive or had flu, and who could not vaccinate, DBE did not have that detail. It had requested that from the Department of Health (DoH) as the granular details of that information lies with DoH. As soon as DBE gets it, it will make it available to the Committee. With the mop-up programme, Dr Whittle is working with DoH to vaccinate the remaining 11% of education workers that were unable to vaccinate already. The latest number of those vaccinated is 517 000 (89%) as the Member indicated, which it got from DoH. It has requested that data.

On who has the authority to call for the return of all primary schools, the directions issued by DBE place that authority on the Minister. The MECs can ask for deviations, and the directions indicate exactly how to go about that. That is why MEC Mshengu correctly indicated that KZN DoE will be asking for deviation from the Minister to enable the return of all primary school learners.

On the Basic Education employment initiative for assistant educators and general workers, DBE has developed a business plan which was submitted to National Treasury. It is waiting for National Treasury to fund Phase 2, but it is ready. It has done everything that it needed to do, and it is expecting Treasury to assist with Phase 2. He noted that he had already responded about quantification of the damage to schools.

Mr Mweli replied that the DBE circular is based on the directive of the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL), which he would make available to Ms Sukers and the Committee. It is incumbent upon every employer, public and private, to do a risk analysis and come up with measures to mitigate operational requirements, as DBE has done. All departments are expected to do what it has done. While waiting for a collective agreement in the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC), DBE has issued that circular to guide and regulate COVID-19 operational requirements for teachers who have been vaccinated and those who have not been vaccinated. That directive comes from DEL, and the Department will make it available to the Committee.

DBE can make the vaccination educational material available as well. On whether it has reached herd immunity or population immunity, Mr Mweli was reluctant to respond to something that is not in his field. He would have to check with DoH if it reaches population immunity at 89% education staff vaccinated. He had seen countries have reached herd immunity at 64%, and around 60% or so people are purporting population and herd immunity. The Department could come back to the Committee with an answer from DoH, or Dr Whittle could help him to respond to that.

On transport in Mpumalanga, DBE will follow up on that. The Department can act immediately to interact with Mpumalanga and get the details on this, so that it gets back to the Committee. The reduction in social distancing comes from MAC, not from DBE. He thanked a Member for enlightening the Department about good Samaritans in KZN who were willing to assist. DBE will wait for the NCCC response on what the Minister went to discuss. The social distancing guidelines are based on the advice of the MAC.

On comparisons of curriculum coverage, this year is slightly better than last year. However what troubled Mr Mweli is that DBE was told that the fourth wave could happen around October, November, December, or January, February, March. DBE has been saying to schools and officials to work every day as though it is their last day, because dynamics keep changing. In some provinces the curve has flattened, but in other provinces such as the Northern Cape, the curve is still going up. The terrain is still uneven around the pandemic. With curriculum coverage, DBE is doing everything possible, but it is slightly better than last year’s group, and the Department will indicate that when it comes to the Committee to present again. He agreed on the need to applaud communities that are now starting to protect their facilities, and protect government infrastructure. He agreed with the observation on vandalism. The Department would share information with the Committee on the arrest of perpetrators.

He had responded to the comprehensive programme, or plan to protect schools to deal with vandalism. The presentation also outlines that. On storm-damaged schools: KZN and Gauteng would help to answer that. Mr Siwela asked if those damaged schools were the same schools that suffered damage from vandalism. Provinces receive an equitable share of revenue; DBE does make a determination on that, nor the budget cuts. The cuts are also determined from provincial level; they are not only determined from a national level. Mr Mweli requested the Committee to put questions about cuts to the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) which will come before the Committee this year, likely after the DBE annual report. They could question the FFC about budget cuts and the allocation to provinces that continue to struggle.

He agreed with the need to engage communities.

There was a question about how DBE was dealing with water. Ms Geyer explained the three methods. One is through boreholes, the other is through provision by municipalities, and the third way is probably [unclear 3:39:29] that can be done either by DBE or the PEDs.

He commented on the radio interview which said that schools are of the view that they cannot cope with bringing back all primary school learners. The Committee had reported that when it went out for an oversight visit, teachers were so happy about the smaller classes and fewer learners. How can teachers be expected to welcome those bigger groups of learners and the large class sizes coming back. “They are bound to complain”. Teachers been comfortable with smaller classes and fewer learners. That is why teachers are complaining, but it does not mean that there is anything wrong with bringing all primary school learners back.

On the need for road shows, DBE’s presentation was saying exactly that. MECs need to lead on this, and it would include school dropouts.

Deputy Minister response
Dr Reginah Mhaule, Deputy Minister of Education, said that the DG responses covered almost all the questions. With returning to schools, the Department said that it cannot stop it, but schools that have a serious challenge must first sort out their challenges, and still allow the learners to come. The Department cannot, based on one province, or one circuit, say that all the learners must not come. In that particular circuit, that particular school must be given a chance to organise itself, helped by the provinces of course, but this is the Department’s response.

KZN MEC response
Mr Mshengu replied about where KZN was to get money to repair these schools, including those schools damaged in the past. The straightforward answer that is no money. KZN had put forth the problems that it is facing. It had raised this matter with the Provincial Treasury, the Office of the Premier to see if they can assist in getting more funding for KZN DoE; then things would be better. Currently, there is no money to repair these schools.

On protection of school infrastructure, the DG spoke about the schools safety framework, which KZN built on as the province to develop the school safety plan. In some schools there are security guards, and they have come under severe attacks; some have been killed in this province. In some of the schools destroyed during this mayhem, there were security guards, but they were attacked. In one school, security guards were locked in a classroom. KZN DoE believes that it can do whatever it can as a department but as long as communities themselves do not protect schools, this battle of vandalism and looting in schools will not be won.

He doubted that there are communities that do not appreciate that schools are necessary for their own development as communities and as a society. But the problem is that some communities do not act in accordance with that appreciation. The DoE has had a number of campaigns in the province, which involved trying to mobilise communities, advocating for the protection of schools, but schools continue to get attacked. The KZN DoE would really appreciate all the organs of community power, including all stakeholders, not only in the sector, to play their part in mobilising communities to protect their schools. He did not think that this is a battle that can be won by the Department alone. It really needs all stakeholders, including political parties in their different forms. If there is one thing that must not be politicised, it is education. The DoE also calls upon political parties to be active in mobilising communities to protect the schools. The hotspots were in Pinetown District, Umlazi District, King Cetshwayo District, as well as Pietermaritzburg in UMgungundlovu District.

Mr Mshengu confirmed that there were no outstanding written parliamentary questions from KZN DoE’s side, but this matter could be followed up.

Mr Mshengu stated that he was part of a meeting requested by the UN Resident Coordinator in South Africa, which included the Premier and other MECs. What was discussed in that meeting is the possibility and the capacity of the UN Resident Coordinator to mobilise resources to assist the KZN situation. There was no specific commitment for resources to repair the damaged schools. It was in the context of the businesses that were damaged that the UN Resident Coordinator would mobilise resources to assist KZN. There was an agreement that a task team would be formed by the Premier’s office and UN officials to take forward the discussion. As it stands, there is no commitment from the UN Resident Coordinator.

Mr Mshengu replied that there has been no feedback from the police on the cases that have been opened. Every time there is vandalism or a break-in, a case gets opened. The DoE is frustrated that there has been no movement in the arrest of perpetrators. Although a number of cases have been opened, it has not had a case where there is an arrest, prosecution and conviction. In some instances, with the help of community members, there have been arrests, but such people are out on bail, and there has not been prosecution and conviction. KZN DoE has raised this concern with the police, including the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), to say that there is an inability to demonstrate the power of the state when people are arrested, caught red-handed with stolen equipment, but are then out on bail. The case then disappears without prosecution and conviction.

Dr Mthembu replied that the schools vandalised this time were not those which were once storm-damaged. There was a question on the number of learners affected. He understood this as: “In the schools that were damaged, how many learners are there?” Learners are back at school, but the fact that they started in a vandalised environment means that there is a psychosocial effect, which needs psychosocial support. Counting the enrolment of all these schools, the figure was [unclear 3:50:44] learners affected by the vandalised environment they are in.

Dr Mthembu wanted to clarify mud schools. Those were the schools which were inherited from the Eastern Cape. There were mud structures there which were replaced with mobile classrooms. After destroying some of them, KZN DoE still has a few old mud classrooms, which it is not using for teaching. The communities have decided to attach a monumental status to those. They said that the structures cannot be destroyed, because they belong to the community, and were built by the community using their hands. KZN DoE has provided eight mobile classrooms. People may be using mud structures as classrooms when DoE goes away. KZN DoE has tried its best to eliminate such structures. There is no need for these structures as the DoE has provided mobile classrooms.

Mr Mosuwe confirmed that at the time of schools reopening, all 125 special schools were 100% ready receive all learners. The 92 schools had reported that potentially not all learners would be returning. It was only those parents who had expressed anxiety and opted to keep learners away from school. GDE provides for psychosocial support. It will be going back to monitor attendance in schools. This will give it a sense of the extent to which learners were not coming back.

Further discussion
Ms Sukers said she would submit her questions in writing to the DG.  She asked if DBE is the employer of teachers and their conditions of service. She noted she had personally called the KZN MEC with a school enquiry, but had received no assistance. Dr Whittle had also not come back to her on the research requested, and this was not addressed by the DG.

Mr Mweli said that conditions of service for teachers are determined by DBE. It is not the employer but it determines conditions of service.

Ms van der Walt asked the KZN DoE about the following gutted schools: Siphosethu Primary, Sikhululiwe School, Radha Roopsingh Primary School, and Golden Steps Special School. What is the progress on those schools?

Ms Weziwe Hadebe, KZN DoE Chief Director: Infrastructure Planning and Delivery Management, replied that the three schools burned are in Pinetown, Ilembe and Pietermaritzburg. To date, KZN DoE has provided 18 mobile classrooms so that the schools are functional. The start date of construction of new classrooms will depend on availability of funding.

The Chairperson said the meeting had given the Committee an idea of the R141 million estimated damage done in just two provinces. She did not think South Africa would be able to recover. The Committee would go on oversight visits to witness what has happened on the ground. She was hopeful that some sort of dialogue, such as when MPs do their constituency work, will make a difference in how people see their own infrastructure. Vandalising schools that cost the country so much, which is money the country does not have, is a matter we cannot be comfortable with.

The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister, DBE DG, KZN MEC, both HODs and officials from DBE and both provinces and the Select Committee. She thanked her Committee members; she knew they were supposed to be having a constituency period, but they put aside time because this is a matter that all consider urgent.

The Chairperson said the Committee Secretary would be in contact with all Committee members for the oversight visit arrangements. She hoped that most Members had been vaccinated and would join the oversight visit. This needs Members to be on the ground, and amongst people. It would be better if Members had a vaccination. “We have lost many people. We have lost so many Members of Parliament”. Parliament must not lose any more Members. She wished women a blessed Women’s Month.

The meeting was adjourned.


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