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Dept doing nothing about corruption – DA

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"There is also no consequence management for a caterer who absconded with more than R2 million in March this year while some pupils had to go hungry"

File photo: David Ritchie / African News Agency (ANA)

CORRUPTION and mismanagement in the Northern Cape Department of Education are impacting on pupils in the Province.

These were the remarks of DA Member of the Provincial Legislature (MPL), Dr Allen Grootboom, on the budget speech of the MEC for Education, Mac Jack.

Grootboom said the scourge of fraud and corruption was denying pupils an opportunity to receive quality education.

“More than 100 infrastructure projects remain unfinished, some dating back to the 2016 financial year. And yet they are still being funded and refunded and no-one seems to take charge to stop the financial bleeding.

“Adding insult to injury, when a school starts to crumble and collapses two years after completion, the department foots the bill for repair costs instead of holding the contractor responsible. I have to question the tender processes in this department and the officials working in this unit.

“How much money was lost at the Roodepan Secondary School? And how much more does the taxpayer have to fork out because the department keeps on paying for things that have already been paid,” Grootboom asked.

He added that the department did not address or accept any accountability as far as fraud and corruption were concerned.

“Nothing is mentioned in the department’s APP that they are addressing the issue of recouping lost money. Our landscape is littered with unfinished schools because of poor workmanship. There is also no consequence management for a caterer who absconded with more than R2 million in March this year while some pupils had to go hungry.

“Does payment for services not occur only after the services have been rendered? Who are the officials responsible for these payments and how can it be allowed to continue without consequences?”

Grootboom pointed out that pupils with special needs in the Province were also receiving the short end of the stick.

“The appointment of educators to work with children with special needs does not receive priority, and even infrastructure projects remain incomplete. The department only plans to undertake seven infrastructure projects at public special schools in the Province.

“The funding allocated for these projects also shows that there is no serious commitment from the department to ensure that pupils with special needs enjoy access to a physical environment which is conducive for learning and adapted to suit their needs.”

Grootboom accused the department of being satisfied with the fact that it was giving children in the Province a bleak future.

“Twenty-six percent of Grade 12 pupils passed the 2018 National Senior Certificate examinations at bachelors’ level. This so-called achievement is 7% below the national average and only Limpopo obtained a lower percentage of bachelor passes. In your APP, there is no mention of assistance to progressed pupils.

“What happened to your Multiple Exam Opportunity system? Another failed initiative? It is not just this poor outcome which is a serious indictment on the department’s management, but also the fact that it sees fit to celebrate it. Are we now so desperate for achievements that we celebrate not just mediocrity, but downright inadequacy too,” Grootboom asked.