WITH less than two months left of the academic year, some schools in the Eastern Cape are still short of teachers, furniture, food and transport, despite numerous orders for the provincial Education Department to make sure these are available to all deserving schools.
Tabling the education portfolio committee report yesterday, chairman Mzoleli Mrara blasted the department for disregarding the committee's oversight function and not carrying through with some of its recommendations.
Prior to the legislature sitting at the Kouga municipality, the committee had visited 13 schools in the Cacadu district to see how they were coping, but many were found to have shortages in various areas.
There is no high school in Jeffreys Bay, forcing many pupils to commute 30km to schools in Humansdorp, and there were serious problems with the pupil transport system as well.
The language of instruction was also a bone of contention in the community as many schools taught in Afrikaans, which was seen to disadvantage the Xhosa-speaking pupils.
The district also had a shortage of teachers, as many were found to rather opt for greener city pastures.
"The vacancy rate is very high in all these schools that were visited," said Mrara. "The district has a challenge with the movement of qualified teachers given its rural nature."
To address the teacher shortage, the committee has recommended a salary incentive to attract teachers and "retain their specialities in those areas".
Patensie High School, seen as one of the seriously neglected schools, had a 0% pass rate across all grades in March due to no teachers for Afrikaans, life orientation, technology and arts and culture. The school had also not received any money for its feeding system, the buses used to transport pupils regularly broke down and there had been no infrastructure development for the past 11 years.
"The MEC must quickly intervene and address the challenges faced by Patensie High School," Mrara said.