Education Sector Partners Convene meeting to address burning of schools in Limpopo

5 May 2016

Centurion, Pretoria 5th May 2016-In response to the wanton burning and destruction of schools in the Vuwani area, Vhembe districts in Limpopo, the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), SADTU, Combined Teacher Unions, National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB) and COSAS have taken a joint decision to convene an urgent meeting of all stakeholders in the education sector in Limpopo province.

The collective has resolved that it will not keep quiet while the future of our children and fellow scholars is being destroyed, "Children must be released to continue to prepare their future, the repeat of these disruptions of schooling in Vhembe is quite saddening,"said Judge Joseph Raulinga, Chairperson of the District Steering Committee in Vhembe.

The objective of the meeting is to foster a joint response that will strive to restore,protect and promote learning and teaching in the Vuwani.

The parties would like to organise a national campaign to support schools in Vuwani and other affected areas around the country. As part of the initiative, there will be a Learner Safety Day on which all schools in the country will be requested to observe a moment of silence as an act of solidarity with affected schools.

The stakeholders have been left aghast by the cruel conduct of the community in these respective areas, "The practice is tantamount to adults trading the future of their children for solutions today.This approach will cause irreversible damages to this cohort of learners. Worse, the meagre resources that rural learners have access to have been further compromised by these mind-boggling and self-sabotaging acts," said Nkosana Dolopi, Deputy General Secretary of SADTU.

The Collective noted with disappointment that the disruption of schooling and destruction of school property is becoming a common feature of protests across the country. Besides Vhembe and Vuwani this diabolical story has been observed in Olifantshoek, Kuruman and Kathu in the Northern Cape where protesting parents shut down 54 schools for about three months, in 2015. Schooling in Malamulele came to a standstill due to a strike in the area that has lasted for seven weeks.

Theparties have resolved to inter alia;

1) Encourage stakeholders and leaders from other sectors to strongly denounce the violent actions directed at schools and work together at finding peaceful solutions to the challenges facing the communities in question,
2) Call on the government to increase security in order to uphold the education rights of learners, protect property and promote peaceful efforts to resolving the challenges. To this end, the violent developments should be addressed with the same vigour used in resolving the recent higher education challenges seen at university campuses.
3) Request the government to ensure that alternative provisions are made for learners to continue to receive education, without fear and intimidation. Vuwani should be declared a national disaster in order to release the necessary resources to put up mobile classrooms in order to ensure continued learning and teaching.

The NECT implements school improvement interventions in eight districts making up 20% of the national education system. The targeted districts include Vhembe where the Vuwani area is located. The improvement interventions include the establishment of District Steering Committees (DSC) which oversee the design and implementation of the improvement activities as well as the responsibility for advocating community participation in education. The DSCs are made up of community leaders representing traditional and religious organisations, teacher unions, youth, business and school governing body associations. Business and Government provide enormous amounts of financial resources to catalyse the improvements envisaged in the National Development Plan.

Issued By: NECT, SADTU, COSAS, National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA), and National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB).

Media Contact: Shavana Mushwana 012 752 6200/078 980 2604 or Xolani Fakude 071 355 1566