ATC201113: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education concerning the Petition from Mrs B Matebe regarding the Education Inequality Dual Medium Schools in the Namakwa Region of the Northern Cape, referred to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education by the Speaker of the National Assembly for consideration, date 13 November 2020
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education concerning the Petition from Mrs B Matebe regarding the Education Inequality Dual Medium Schools in the Namakwa Region of the Northern Cape, referred to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education by the Speaker of the National Assembly for consideration, date 13 November 2020
The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, having considered the Petition from Mrs B Matebe regarding the Education Inequality Dual Medium Schools in the Namakwa Region in the Northern Cape, referred to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education by the Speaker of the National Assembly for consideration, reports as follows:
On Friday, 6 November 2020, the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education convened a meeting to consider the Petition from Mrs B Matebe regarding Education Inequality Dual Medium Schools in the Namakwa Region in the Northern Cape. The Portfolio Committee initiated the meeting to receive a briefing and engage on the Petition by the following stakeholders:
- Mrs B Matebe (Petitioner);
- Northern Cape Department of Education; and
- Department of Basic Education (DBE).
- Submission from Mrs B Matebe
The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, received a Petition from Mrs B Matebe which was referred to the Portfolio Committee by the Office of the Speaker of the National Assembly for consideration and report. The submission tabled by Mrs Matebe included the following:
- Petition to the Speaker of the National Assembly regarding Education Inequality Dual Medium Schools in Namakwa Region;
- Correspondence with Springbok Primary School regarding English as a Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT);
- Various emails between the petitioner and the Northern Cape Department of Education;
- A list of parents and learners affected by the absence of English Medium Public Schools; and
- Correspondence from the National Department of Basic Education.
Mrs Matebe in her address to the Committees gave a broad overview of her Petition by initially indicating that the Afrikaans Education system in the Namakwa Region of the Northern Cape was still oppressing, depressing and limiting black children’s capability of getting good quality education, and further it was failing the children. All 74 public schools were Afrikaans medium and black children were forced to attend a private school that was not affordable. She was calling for interventions from the Northern Cape Provincial Education Department to ensure there was transformation in the district as black learners were being forced to be taught in Afrikaans. For most black learners, English was their preferred language of learning and would rather have English as first language and Afrikaans as a second language – and Mrs Matebe was petitioning for English classes and dual medium schools to be implemented.
Mrs Matebe also requested that the Department was clear on language and admission policies as parents of black learners were communicated with in Afrikaans which was not their first language. This caused parents to feel uninformed and not updated on activities of the school, in particular curriculum issues, helping their kids at home and school information related Covid- 19. She was of the view that admissions to public schools should be free, fair and uncomplicated – and parents should be informed in writing with regards to reasons for learners not being admitted.
Mrs Matebe detailed her engagements with the School Management at Springbok Primary, officials in the District, Northern Cape Provincial Department, the Office of the MEC as well as the National Department of Basic Education – with no success of positive outcome. She also mentioned that the idea of supplying affected learners with English textbooks was her idea so that she was able to tutor her children at home. Part of the issues raised byMrs Matebe alluded to bullying, ill treatment and racist tendencies that was metered on her children at the school, however she noted that the Department claimed they had not received any credible evidence of racism and bullying from Mrs Matebe in their investigations. However, Mrs Matebe indicated that no official from the Department had ever interviewed her or her children – and she could not understand how they could come to their conclusions.
- Input by Department of Basic Education (DBE) – Mr H M Mweli
Mr Mweli indicated his sympathy for the plight of the Petitioner and gave an overview of Section 29 of the Constitution which covered the provision of basic education -and the practicability of this provision. He also noted the difficulty in respect of the predominance of the Afrikaans community in the region – and how the NCDOE would be able to accommodate learners from other language backgrounds other than Afrikaans. He undertook to work with the NCDOE to find solutions to the impasse and ensure that the learners affected could be accommodated in some way.
- Input by the Northern Cape Department of Education (NCDOE) – Mr S Beuzana
The MEC for Education, Mr Monakali also indicated that he agreed with the sentiments of the Director-General on the matter. The NCDOE was dealing with the matter and trying to find solutions – not forgetting the dynamics of the area concerned whereby a large majority of the community predominantly spoke Afrikaans. Mr Monakali then handed over to the Acting Head of Department, Mr S Beuzana to brief the Committees.
In response to the petition by Mrs B Matebe, Mr Beuzana provided the background and an update on the progress made with regard to the request for Dual Medium Classes in the Namakwa Education Districts. Mr Beuzana also alluded to the Norms and Standards for school language policy and gave the following background to the matter:
- A survey in 2019 reflected that 55 parents expressed interest in English medium classes across three schools in the Namakwa District. This included parents outside the Province that indicated they would relocate to the Namakwa District.
- The 55 learners seeking English medium of instruction was too low and impracticable to implement at this stage.
- In 2020 only 29 English medium parents across all grades actually registered in the Namakwa District. In order to meet the needs of these learners’, district officials consulted with School Governing Bodies and affected teachers to assist these learners with code switching at the respective schools.
- The Department procured English textbooks for the learners across the various subjects. This strategy was proposed for the interim until the Department could fully implement English parallel medium classes in the district once numbers justify it.
- The District engaged the school in February 2020 to revise their Language and Admission policies to accommodate English speaking parents in all forms of communication as well as during parent meetings.
- The school was directed to immediately do away with a waiting list and feeder zones for learner admissions.
- The Circuit Manager investigated all allegations of discrimination and bullying of the child but could not find substantive evidence. The parent (complainant) chose Springbok Primary school because in her own words it was the school which performs the best, the teachers were the best qualified and for the positive teaching and learning environment.
- The SGB asked the complainant to provide proof of all allegations of discrimination, bullying and ill treatment of her child but till today she could not table any concrete evidence.
Further to this, Mr Beuzana gave a detailed overview of the home language offerings in the Namakwa District, cluster primary schools as well as specific schools. The Department also offered information on Springbok Primary School 2020 Home Language statistics. In respect of the procurement of English textbooks, Mr Beuzana gave further information on the background as well as an update on order and delivery of textbooks.
Regarding the October 2020 learner report cards, Mr Beuzana indicated that report cards for the October 2020 examinations in the Province would only be issued by 6 November 2020 due to the technical problems experienced with the SA-SAMS system.
In conclusion, Mr Beuzana mentioned that the Department acknowledged the requests for the implementation of English medium classes in the Namakwa District. The low enrollment numbers of English medium learners across various grades in the Namakwa District suggested that multi-grade English medium classes could not be implemented. The number of parents seeking English medium of instruction in the Namakwa District was too low and impracticable to implement at this stage.
The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, having considered the Petition from Mrs B Matebe regarding Education Inequality Dual Medium Schools in the Namakwa Region of the Northern Cape, referred to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education by the Speaker of the National Assembly for consideration, recommends that:
- The National Department, in collaboration with the NCDOE ensures that measures were put in place to accommodate the affected learners as a matter of urgency.
- The NCDOE considered recruitment of English teachers at the affected schools.
- The NCDOE looked to implement dual/bilingual classes in the interim as well as possible alternate modes/methods of teaching and learning for affected learners.
- The NCDOE ensured that issues of transformation were addressed.
The Portfolio Committee further resolved that it received regular updates on progress in respect of the above recommendations.
Report to be considered.
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