ATC200211: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education concerning the Submission from he Griqua People’s Heritage on the lack of a Primary School, submitted to the Office of the Deputy Speaker and referred to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, dated 11 February 2020.
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education concerning the Submission from he Griqua People’s Heritage on the lack of a Primary School, submitted to the Office of the Deputy Speaker and referred to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, dated 11 February 2020.
The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, having considered the Submission from the Griqua People’s Heritage regarding the lack of a primary school in their area submitted to the Office of the Deputy Speaker on 30 October 2019 and referred to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, reports as follows:
On Tuesday, 26 November 2019, the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education convened a meeting to consider the Submission from the Griqua People’s Heritage regarding the lack of a primary school in their area as submitted to the Office of the Deputy Speaker on 30 October 2019. The Portfolio Committee initiated called the meeting to receive a briefing and engage on the Submission by the following stakeholders:
• Representative of the Griqua People’s Heritage;
• Northern Cape Department of Education; and
• Department of Basic Education (DBE)
1. Submission from the Griqua People’s Heritage
The submission from the Griqua People’s Heritage dealt with a range of issues that needed attention and included, amongst others:
• Concerns regarding Land Claims/Ownership;
• Concerns regarding Mining Rights/Permits;
• Concerns regarding Basic Services (electricity, water and sanitation);
• Concerns regarding Service Delivery; and
• Concerns regarding the lack of a primary school in their area.
In consideration of their Submission, the Portfolio Committee attended to concerns pertaining to the lack of a primary school in the area, as per last (bullet) point above.
1.1 Background: The representative from the Griqua People’s Heritage (Mr H Drift) gave a brief history to the Griqua People’s Heritage and the establishment of their community on Farm 371 Gong-Gong that dates back as early as 1700’s. This was a multicultural community of Black, White, Indian and Griqua (later reclassified as coloureds). Inter-marrying across racial divide was common place within the community. In the 1950’s the Indians and Whites were removed from the Farm and Black people were relocated to Papierstad in 1967/68. There was also a move to remove the Coloured in the early 1980’s but this was met with resistance and negotiations started for the purchase of the property for the Griquas (Coloureds). There was a land claim and Farm 371 was not part of the claim settlement. The Dikgatlong Municipality laid claim to the farm and registered it in their name in 2003. This caused a dispossession of an entire community. The Northern Cape Provincial Government (NCPG) structures resisted all requests/attempts for assistance from the community.
2.2 Current Situation: Over 400 families lived under constant harassment by an illegal Community Property Association (CPA) established by Department of Rural Development, Land Reform and Agriculture (DRDLA) and assisted by the Dikgatlong Municipal officials. The area had no potable water, no sanitation and no road infrastructure. The community advocated on their own behalf and succeeded in electrifying the farm via Eskom. The Community had no Early Childhood Development facilities and no proper health facilities. There was no development of any nature by any state agency/organ and there was a constant threat of mining companies coming into the area without proper consultation with the communities - but approved by the CPA, Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and the Dikgatlong Municipality.
Due to lack of a school in the area, learners had to commute to five different schools in the surrounding area (i.e. G. N. Pressley Intermediate (Longlands), Barkly West Primary, Barkly West Secondary, Mosalakae Primary (Mataleng) and Borosetse Secondary (Mataleng)). Judging by the data and comparing them to that of schools in areas similar to Farm 371 it was found that G.N. Pressley in Moddergat, the neighbouring farm, had a school from Gr R - 9 for 505 learners and Pniel Landgoed had a school from Gr R – 7 for 167 learners.
2.3 Motivation for a School in the Area: It has been found that learners as young as five-years old commute to schools in surrounding areas where a large majority of learners resided – many leave home at dawn during the winter months. It was also found that these learners experienced bullying on the school busses and constantly lost belongings during the commute. These learners arrived home very late and only had time to complete homework before going to bed – with no time for other extra mural /social activities. It had also been reported that learners boarded school busses but never reached school. The children were migrant learners who could not fully participate in educational opportunities due to transport challenges and parents could not engage actively with the school due to financial constraints. Parents often had to pay for repairs to school busses and found it difficult to attend school meetings due to non-availability of transport in the evenings when meetings were scheduled.
2.4 Benefits of Having a School in the Area: With a school in the community, there would be ample time for pursuing their culture and learners could better develop holistically. The school could develop and manage a co-curricular programme. Learners would be able to walk to school and there would be a decrease in absenteeism. Consideration could be given to the introduction of an after-care programme to better manage learners at risk. Truant learners would be better managed by parents, teachers and community members. This could also improve parental involvement with the school and there would be a sense of purpose amongst the community and community programmes could be school-based. Further to this, a school enrichment programme could be introduced with ABET classes offered to parents. The school may also lead to further job opportunities for the community.
2.5 Options Available to Parties: The Griqua People’s Heritage indicated that their community was not oblivious/ignorant of the state of the fiscus and the severe constraints under which departments had to operate. There was an appeal for the Portfolio Committee to assist the community in respect of their demand for a school. The Griqua People’s Heritage understood and accepted that currently the Department did not have the necessary resources to provide a school and requested that the State:
• Ensured the speedy return of land rights and ownership to the community;
• Made available expertise to assist with sourcing funding to build a community school and skills development centre;
• Assisted with special planning on the farm; and
• Provided training to the community to benefit from the busy R31.
The Griqua People’s Heritage was eager for development of Farm 371 and there was commitment from the community in this regard – but first there was a need for electrification of the area.
2. Input by the Northern Cape Department of Education (NCDOE)
The NCDOE alluded to the serious constraints on infrastructure and budgets in the province. The Northern Cape Department of Education (NCDOE) was wholly dependent on Conditional Grants for infrastructure and received nothing from the Equitable Share to supplement the infrastructure grant. Around 30 percent of schools in the Provinces was built from asbestos material and needed to be replaced. The Department only built new schools where there was a serious demand due to unexpected population growth. He noted that the rate of urbanisation in certain areas was huge. The Department also had a national programme of rationalisation of micro/unviable schools. National Treasury had advised that they would be cutting Conditional Grants by 10 percent which would negatively impact on the programmes of the Provincial Department.
The NCDOE gave a detailed map indicating the area known as Gong-Gong – the area, according to STATS-SA 2011 Census, had a population of 1 045 and a total of 295 households. Further to this, the data showed a total of 121 Primary School Learners residing in Gong-Gong. The Portfolio Committee received a detailed breakdown of the learners per Grade per school.
2.1 Learner Transport: A total of 30 Primary School Learners of the Gong-Gong community acquire means of transport by a bus and a minibus to Barkly-West (12km). These learners include Grade R’s who attend primary and secondary schools in Barkly-West. In the area next to Gong-Gong, known as Longlands, primary school learners attend the GN Pressley Intermediate School and some primary school learners get transported to Delportshoop schools along with the secondary school learners (14km). It should be noted that the Department was paying for the learner transport and there was no contribution from the parents in any way. The Portfolio Committee received a detailed table indicating the learner transport routes and the number of learners that utilised the transport.
2.2 School Rationalisation: Within the guidelines for rationalisation and re-alignment of public schools the Minister of Basic Education stated the following:
“Our country South Africa comprises rural, farm, township, sub-urban and urban settlements. Some of these settlements are located in remote areas with very small population sizes. Despite the size of these settlements, the Government is expected to provide social services to these communities, in cost effective ways. Micro schools are a common phenomenon in these small human settlements, some having been developed by the local communities. The existence of these micro schools is such that the sector is not able to provide its services cost effectively. It also compromises the quality of teaching and learning due to multi-grade teaching that becomes necessary, unavailability of wide subject choices, especially for Secondary School learners and inability of the learners to participate in a wide range of sport codes and other extra-curricular activities.
Following the problems associated with micro schools, the Department of Basic Education assessed means by which quality education could be provided in an affordable manner in the immediate and long-term. This led to a need to consider closing down some of the micro schools and merge them with other schools, doing so after extensive technical assessments and inclusive stakeholder consultations have been carried out. This would be done as part of the School Rationalisation and Re-Alignment Process.”
As a developing economy, South Africa comprised a mix of rural, farm, township and urban communities. Some of the rural areas and farm settlements were located in remote areas with population sizes of less than 2 500. (This was a community size that warranted an establishment of a viable school.). The basic education sector considered that while its drive was to ensure accessibility by all its learners to quality education that is delivered in safe, accessible, and quality education facilities, running a number of very small/ micro schools was compromising its efforts and was weakening its aim of providing curriculum support effectively, efficiently and cost effectively. Regardless of the size of a school, the Department had an obligation of providing it with the adequate number of teachers, sufficient Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) and appropriate school facilities with sufficient number of classrooms and other functional spaces. Regulation 5 of the Minimum Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure (MUNAS-PSI) provided for different types of schools to be pursued by the sector, being Primary Schools (to cater for Grades R to 7 learners, with a maximum of 30 learners per Grade R class and a maximum of 40 learners per class in Grades 1 to 7) and Secondary Schools (to cater for Grades 8 to 12 learners, with a maximum of 40 learners per class). It further provides for different sizes of schools, per Learner Enrolment Figures (LEF).
The Portfolio Committee received a detailed breakdown of the primary schools in the vicinity of Gong-Gong and distances. The closest schools were GN Pressley Intermediate School, Barkly Wes Primere Skool and Barkly West Primary School. Further to this the Portfolio Committee also received a detailed overview of the infrastructure projects in the vicinity. The Department was currently in the process of constructing a new Primary School in Barkly West. The Department presented a table of projects that were currently in construction and that was planned to be implemented within the 2019/20 MTEF period in order to increase the capacity of the current schools within the vicinity.
2.3 Proposal and Conclusion: The Department did not see it feasible to construct a new Primary School in Gong-Gong due to the following reasons:
• As the community size that warrants an establishment of a viable school was that of 2 500 - Gong-Gong as per STATS-SA 2011 Census only had a population 1 045.
• The current backlogs in terms of the Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure (November 2013) was estimated to cost R 12.5 billion.
The Department, however was committed to continue to provide learner transport to the affected community in order to ensure that the learners had access to education. The Department would be constructing a double ECD Classroom at GN Pressley Intermediate School which was 4,6 km from the furthest point of Gong-Gong - and propose that the Gr R Learners of Gong-Gong attended school at GN Pressley Intermediate School.
3. Input by the Department of Basic Education
The Director-General for the Department of Basic Education indicated that as a Department, there was sympathy for the plight of the Gong-Gong community, but there was also similar sympathy for the NCDOE. Regarding the statistics provided, the Department was using the 2011 community household census – this was the first and only time the census was done. The Department also alluded to the data from SA-SAMS which was received on a yearly basis – which was also used in the presentation. The Director-General agreed with the multi-pronged approach to deal with issues relating to the Gong-Gong submission – as there were other sectors/departments implicated.
The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, having considered the Submission from the Griqua People’s Heritage regarding the lack of a primary school in their area submitted to the Office of the Deputy Speaker on 30 October 2019 and referred to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, reports that:
The information and documentation submitted by the Northern Cape Department of Education in response to the Submission addresses the matters raised in the Submission. Although the Portfolio Committee is satisfied that the response is adequate in addressing the concerns raised by the Submission, the Committee further resolves that it would look to facilitate a collaborative, multi-faceted, multi-departmental engagement on ways to assist the Gong-Gong community to speedily address their challenges as outlined in their submission.
Report to be considered.
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