Call for DBE to engage Police and Public Works - Bax Nodada

DA MP says dept and police must work together to protect school infrastructure following looting

DA calls for DBE to engage Police and Public Works to protect school infrastructure following looting

4 August 2021

The DA calls on the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to engage with the Departments of Police and Public Works to implement a plan of action to protect school infrastructure against criminals. A presentation by the DBE to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on Tuesday revealed that a total of 148 schools (144 in KwaZulu-Natal and in 4 Gauteng) were vandalised during the ANC-sponsored violent looting and unrest. This is in addition to the 1 882 schools that were vandalised since March 2020, of which 1 700 are still being repaired.

The total cost of the damage from the unrest is sitting at over R140 million. What is disappointing to note is that, outside of the unrest, many schools have experienced repeated cases of vandalism. In Gauteng alone, 138 schools were affected more than once. This highlights the DBE’s inability to work with other Departments such as Police, Public Works and Treasury to ensure that proper resources are allocated to protect and repair school infrastructure.

In addition to these measures, the DBE must work with local communities to implement cost effective plans to protect their schools. Our schools are in a dire state, and we must use all possible resources and avenues to protect schools and to protect our learners' futures.

In addition to our call for the DBE to engage with relevant Departments, we have also requested the following interventions in relation to school infrastructure:

The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education should conduct oversight inspections next week to Gauteng and KZN so that we can see the realities on the ground and provide solutions;

DBE should conduct a cost benefit-analysis on vandalism repairs of school infrastructure versus the possibility to implementing private insurance or security;

Department should engage with communities on plans that are in place to protect local infrastructure;

DBE should adequately work with SAPS, who have the relevant policing resources to cater to the needs of communities, provide relevant intelligence and arrest those who are caught and found guilty; and

Indicate the state of the backlog of building new schools. Infrastructure vandalism and continued budget cuts have had a major effect on overcrowding. There is a need for a plan to be put in place to address infrastructure backlogs and to protect existing infrastructure.

The Department reported in the Portfolio Committee that took place this Tuesday, that the Western Cape has only 59 cumulative schools that have been vandalised of which, most have been repaired. The presenter attributed the low number of cases to the additional 175 patrols that have been implemented in the province. The DBE should learn from the Western Cape in this regard. What is important to consider is the need to encourage communities to protect and not destroy their crucial educational infrastructure. Not only does government need to take responsibility in their effectiveness, but communities need to stand together and protect what is theirs.

I will visit Luqolweni Senior Primary in Mount Frere, Eastern Cape on Thursday to liaise with stakeholders to contribute to infrastructure projects and to arrange an official handover in the months to come. There is a need to coordinate with private donors as well as government departments as the solutions to our school infrastructural problems are multi-faceted.

Issued by Bax Nodada, DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education, 4 August 2021