Minister Schäfer says Minister Surty should set better example
Statement by Debbie Schäfer, Western Cape Minister of Education
Yesterday, Wednesday 18 March 2015, Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Enver Surty, handed over a new school to the community of Uitsig, Tygersig Primary School. This was a replacement school which was part of the ASIDI programme, to replace inappropriate structures which in the Western Cape are known as “plankie schools”.
Today, Thursday 19 March 2015, an article published in Die Son Newspaper titled ‘Ouers wil skuif he’ (19/03/2015 p6) is accompanied by a photograph of Deputy Minister Surty flanked on the one side by ANC supporters wearing ANC paraphernalia, on the school premises, during school hours. On his other side was Tony Ehrenreich.
Section 33A(4) of the South African Schools Act states quite clearly:
“A school may not allow the display of material of a party-political nature on its premises unless such party-political material is related to the curriculum at the school.”
The obligation is on the school, but it is quite clear that the Minister took no steps whatsoever to ensure that this provision of the Act was complied with, and carried on smiling for the photographs.
This was a National Government public school handover in partnership with the Western Cape Education Department and it is clear that Minister Surty and the Department of Basic Education has no sense of the separation between party and state.
This blatant display of Party regalia during school hours in public schools is illegal.
Furthermore, in the Cape Times (Thursday 19th March), Deputy Minister is quoted as saying that he is discussing a proposal with the Western Cape Education Department district officials for the Uitsig High School to be moved into the old Primary School premises.
This is quite astounding for two reasons:
- The entire purpose of the ASIDI programme is to replace structures that are deemed to be inappropriate. So why would the Deputy Minister want to move learners into a school that his Department has just spent R56m on replacing because it was not deemed suitable for learners?
- The WCED, a few weeks ago, made a proposal that the Grade 11 and 12 learners at Uitsig High move to other schools in the area, because the High School premises are not optimal. The proposal, however, was vociferously opposed by Tony Ehrenreich.
So it seems that the ANC/COSATU alliance will rather move learners to an inappropriate structure than support a proposal by the WCED to move to a totally suitable school.
This is nothing but a blatant politicisation of education, just like the school closures case.
I will be writing to Minister Surty regarding this inappropriate action and request him to set a better example to schools and learners by following the law.
We will be monitoring activity in our schools closely ahead of the municipal elections.