Lesufi demands answers from Sebokeng as school - Mbuyiseni Ndlozi's alma mater - is torched
Gauteng's education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he would demand answers from the community of Sebokeng, southern Gauteng, where a school was burnt in the early hours of Wednesday.
Lesufi further added that while he was happy to open and hand over the Noordgesig Primary School in Soweto, he was saddened by the news that a school had been set alight.
“As we open this school, someone decided to burn another school (Khutlo-Tharo Secondary) this morning. It was burnt by senseless people. The community must point out who did that damage and the people must be arrested.
“We can’t build schools for criminals to destroy them. In fact, we build schools to liberate criminals, because if their children are educated they won’t have to do all these things,” Lesufi said.
Two weeks ago, another school in the Vaal was set alight. Four classrooms, learning materials and stock worth about R4m were reduced to ashes in the blaze at Tokelo High School. Initial investigations pointed to arson.
The Gauteng education department disclosed later on Wednesday that Khutlo-Tharo Secondary was the third school in the area torched since December, “with 17 break-ins prior to today's event”.
“Teaching and learning will resume tomorrow. Learners will receive counselling,” the department added.
The EFF's spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, said on Twitter in response to the news that he had attended Khutlo-Tharo Secondary School. He included a heartbroken emoji.
Lesufi, meanwhile. slammed criticism that the province's online application system for school placements was causing disorder.
“It’s not a disaster; it’s a vote of confidence. There’s no chaos. People prefer Gauteng. The department is equal to the challenge. In the next 10 days all our children will be placed in a school,” he said.
Lesufi congratulated the community on the opening of Noordgesig Primary School.
“We are sending a strong message to those who thought we deserve asbestos schools. What used to be denied to us, we are turning it around.
“ Those who thought our schools don’t deserve libraries, laboratories, wherever they are today, they must know that all those things belong to all of us,” Lesufi said.
The MEC also spoke about plans to build a “futuristic” crèche.
“We will unveil it in the next 18 months. Gone are those days when children would go to crèche, eat, sleep and go home. In Gauteng we will teach them at a tender age about robotics, while the brain is still fresh,” he said.
The moderately priced Curro independent school network, which Lesufi on Tuesday said had agreed to help the department accommodate pupils in grades one and eight this year, said on Wednesday “most of the learners in Gauteng were placed by the GDE and we were approached to assist only with limited placements in specific areas where capacity issues exist”.
“The group has indeed indicated its willingness to support the GDE in accommodating children who have not yet been placed within a school for the 2020 school year. Discussions continue to take place around how best the group can assist and have not yet been finalised,” the company said.
Enrolments remain subject to internal Curro criteria and placements will be available only at selected schools that have space, Curro said.
While news reports stated that the department had signalled that a 30% reduction in fees was on the cards, Curro said: “Fees remain in place and aligned to our business model, not to that of public school fees.”
As the new school year begins, we take a deeper look at the matric pass rate and its importance. The matric pass rate for 2019 exceeded 80% for the first time since 1994, but some academics argue that this figure does not reflect the true health of the education system, due to the high dropout rate. Others suggest that the country's focus on the matric pass rate is problematic in itself.