Delegations which consisted of Parliament MP’s from the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), recently visited Schools in all Municipalities under the Alfred Nzo District as part of their oversight visits and its Communication initiative called taking Parliament to the people. More importantly, the initiative was for the NCOP to get to assess and really get to analyze and get to know and understand the situation regarding Education in the District.

The delegation which visited Umzimvubu Local Municipality, arrived to a situation which causes concerns in other schools, with some schools not having proper food and sanitation facilities, and no fencing in some, and the ever so alarming rate of teenage pregnancy in some high schools. However there was some hope in the early development phase visits, where they visited pre-schools like the Zingisani Pre-School in the Njijini area at ward 22 and the Bonintwentle Education Centre at ward 17. The MP’s were well received, with warm welcomes from the children and teaching stuff and more importantly, it was wonderful to see the passion and dedication in the care givers where some pre-schools provided free care giving as some parents in the municipality could not afford to pay the minimum fees the schools charge. At the Bonintwentle Centre, the elderly owner who is simply known as Makhulu, shared of the passion her staff and her share in taking care of the children, stating that even though they do receive support from the department of social development it is not enough to cover her running costs, as the department only pays for 2 employees per pre-school and she currently has 9 people in her staff who have to work for up to 12-15 hours a day at a minimum wage.

There was also a good story to tell in the high schools group, like Makaula Senior Secondary in Lugangeni area, ward 15. The schools strong administrative personnel and school governing body is a perfect example of the positive results sound leadership can yield. This senior secondary school, is one of the largest high schools in the district and has a roll call of 1429 pupils. The school also has a boarding school which houses 964 students. The school has ensured that its part of the scholar transport system which is a government funded project, which transports children from the surrounding communities to school. The school is currently sitting at an 81% pass rate and is also in partnership with higher education Institutions University of Cape Town (UCT) and the Stellenbosch University in Western Cape. The Principal of the school Mr. Mbana gave us a brief background of the school which was officially opened at 2008 was named after King Makaula of the Makaula Tradition Council. He also told of their wishes as the school’s governing body, to develop the school further, as they were currently planning to develop a better functional boarding residents for their students.

On the 20th of October, all the Municipalities in the district gathered at the Emaxhesibeni Town hall to consolidate all the feedbacks and reports, and begin to pave a way forward regarding the challenges faced by schools in the district. The ultimate consensus was that, Mayors in the Local Municipalities should ensure better sound governance within their municipalities by facilitating better running of their Inter Governmental Relations (IGR) plans and also, the District Education department must priorities their budget allocations according to matters of importance. Infrastructure is a key component in developing our communities and instilling a sense of dignity to our children and youth in communities.