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The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education yesterday began its week-long oversight visit to schools in North West and Free State to assess schools’ readiness to start the 2022 academic year.

Committee Chairperson Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba said this forms part of the committee’s constitutional mandate of oversight over provincial education departments. The committee had engagements with the district, provincial and national education officials, school governing bodies, organised labour and the South African Principals Association.

Unplaced learners, scholar transport, the continuation of the 2019 placement of the North-West Department of Education under administration in terms of Section 100 and rotational teaching arising from the Covid-19 pandemic were some of the issues discussed yesterday. Mbinqo-Gigaba said it is important for the education department in the province to communicate and meet with organised labour, as it is an important stakeholder.

Later in the day, the committee split into two groups to visit six schools in the North West Province. The schools were the Onkgopotse Tiro Comprehensive School, Reatlegile Special School, Makgwe Primary School, Boitseanape Technical Secondary, Retlametswe Special School and Sannieshof High School.

Mbinqo-Gigaba said the committee noted all the concerns raised at the schools, which included the lack of kitchens to cook for learners, tensions within school governing bodies and tensions between school principals and education officials.

The committee will compile a comprehensive report on its visit and submit it to the provincial and national departments of education for the purposes of addressing all the problems highlighted. Ms Mbinqo-Gigaba pointed out that it is the child who feels the consequences of any problem. She called on governing bodies, principals and education officials to sort out their tense relationships.

The committee will continue with its school visits programme in the North West.