NEWS & ANALYSIS

Essential Services Committee only protects some learners - Nomsa Marchesi

DA MP says services in boarding schools protected, but not others

Essential Services Committee protects some learners, but leaves majority at risk

The Democratic Alliance (DA) today received the decision of the Essential Services Committee (ESC) on our application to have services rendered by educators and support staff designated as essential.

The ESC has chosen to designate a number of services in boarding schools as essential, including House Parents, sanatorium and medication dispensing staff, and security staff at boarding schools. This is a great victory for learners at boarding schools, who have often been abandoned and placed at great risk during educator and support staff strikes.

But boarding schools only make up a small proportion of South African schools, meaning that the vast majority of learners have been let down by this designation and continue to remain unsafe at school when staff decide to strike.

The designation should have protected all learners – but excludes school leadership, catering staff and cleaning services as essential. We remain convinced that these are critical services that, when withdrawn, endanger the health and safety of children.

It is also shocking that the ESC has taken the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) word that service will be improved at special needs schools, with integration with main schools. We know from experience that learners at these schools have not seen any measurable improvement and that services are not even properly monitored, leaving learners at serious risk.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is now required to ensure that agreements are made to implement this designation for boarding schools, and we will closely monitor its progress.

The DA will continue to fight for the safety of our learners, because no learner should be placed at risk in our school system. While the failing ANC struggles to provide a dignified learning environment for South African children and caves to a bullying SADTU, DA governments work tirelessly to keep kids safe at school.

Statement issued by Nomsa Marchesi MP, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, 9 November 2018