by Luvuyo Ndarane

                      MEC Lusithi delivering sanitary towels to schools during the Back to School Campaign in Senqu Local Municipality

Four schools were visited by the provincial political delegation last week Thursday and Friday during the Back to School Campaign drive in Senqu Local Municipality. This delegation is part of the province`s teams visiting schools across the province to assess their state of readiness for the resumption of the schooling programme. It was led by Social Development MEC Siphokazi Lusithi and Honourable Nontutuzelo Maqubela who is the head of Education Portfolio Committee in the provincial legislature.

The Back to School Campaign is government`s initiative that includes visitation to schools by political leaders accompanied by senior officials in a particular district. This normally happens during the first days of the school calendar to assess the state of readiness in schools for the school year ahead. According to Mrs Maqubela, the mission of this delegation is to “monitor the six non-negotiables in schools which are Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), ablution facilities, hygiene, sanitation, water and kitchen tidiness”. The programme of this campaign has got three segments in it. Firstly, the delegation addresses the learners, encouraging and motivating them as they steady themselves to negotiate the year ahead. Secondly, this delegation meets with school management bodies which are led by the school principal. The last lap is the handover of deliverables to the schools.

The schools that were visited are KwaGcina Junior Secondary School, Storomo Junior Secondary School, Ebenezer Nyathi Senior Secondary School and Nkopane Primary School. They are all in the Sterkspruit District of Education. During the meeting sessions between the government delegation, the school management and the School Governing Body (SGB) principals give profiles of their schools. It is the profiles of schools that determine the nature of interventions needed in each school. The challenges highlighted in these schools range from staff shortages, lack of communication with the district office to serious infrastructural damages. For instance, in Storomo Junior Secondary School serious challenges like arson and rape were noted. A block of classrooms was gutted down by fire and a learner was sexually abused in this school while in Ebenezer Senior Secondary a shortage of furniture was pointed as an immediate impediment to normal learning. The Nkopane Junior Secondary is victim to “two tornado whirlwinds” and has not been repaired since.  

Some of these challenges have already been referred to the district office of the Department of Education. Even though making up for some of these challenges is not the immediate mandate of the department of Education, Dr Bandile Mceleli who is the Acting Deputy  Director General in Sterkspruit District noted all challenges with concern and promised to “follow up all the challenges mentioned and I promise to report in the next meeting all the progress made.” MEC Lusithi, on the challenges that are the mandate of Social Development, promised to “attend to these challenges through the Rapid Response Funding that is available to us.” In all these schools MEC Lusithi delivered sanitary towels to learners. ”This equipment was sponsored to us by Old Mutual”, she said.