Of 20 torched Vuwani schools, why has only one been rebuilt?

Linked are pictures taken during the oversight visit of Vhudzani Secondary, Vhafamadi Secondary School, Tshirunzanani Primary, Mugoidwa Secondary and Mashau Primary.

During my recent oversight visit to Vuwani to see what progress had been made in rebuilding the more than 20 schools burnt down during protests last year, I was shocked to see that only one had been rebuilt. Minister Angie Motshekga’s Department of Basic Education (DBE) has a lot of explaining to do.

The DA will write to the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, to demand that she commit to timeline by which the other schools will be rebuilt.

Protests against the incorporation of the Vuwani District into the Malamulele Municipality began in May 2016 and resulted in 30 000 learners missing school after violence erupted.

Shockingly, a year on, only one of the more than 20 schools that were destroyed has been rebuilt. That school is the Vhafamadi Secondary School and was rebuilt in three months by the Shandukani Foundation and the National Lottery.

If this school was rebuilt in three months, surely the Minister can muster the will to rebuild the more than 20 other schools that have been destroyed.

Basic education is a right guaranteed by our Constitution and the first vital step in empowering our youth, yet the ANC government has utterly failed the children of Vuwani.

Last year, the Limpopo Provincial Government underspent on its school infrastructure grant by R67 million. This money could have been spent on restoring the schools that have been destroyed on Vuwani.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) report titled “Impact of Protest-related Action on the Right to a Basic Education in South Africa” made numerous findings that the Vuwani protests directly infringe on the right to a basic education.

It is clear that the Minister has, in essence, washed her hands of the problem, when she said: “if they continue to burn schools, let it be” on 20 April 2017, when tensions in Vuwani flared up again. This is despite the SAHRC’s recommendations.

Minister Motsekga doesn’t seem to think she has a role to play in ensuring that the Department does its job to repair these schools. She is wrong. As Minister she is ultimately responsible for making sure our children get the best possible education, a task at which she is currently failing in Vuwani.

The Minister must take responsibility for the lack progress in rebuilding schools in Vuwani and commit to a date by which she will ensure the schools are rebuilt.

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