Estralita Special School in Mashishing needs urgent attention as learners are denied access to education

Issued by Sonja Boshoff: MP – Member of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP)
24 May 2023 in Press Releases

The DA calls on the education MEC in Mpumalanga, Bonakele Majuba, to urgently intervene and address issues facing Estralita Special School in Mashishing (formerly Lydenburg), as disabled learners are denied their Constitutional right to education. 

We would also like to refer MEC Majuba to Chapter 1 of the Personnel Administrative Measures on Picketing Rules which clearly shows that the employees who belong to NEHAWU and who are holding this school ransom are acting unlawfully. 

The school has not been fully operational since May 2022 after a strike by the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU). The strike included educators, housekeepers, cleaners, kitchen staff and groundsmen. It was reported that the unrest was caused by allegations of racism at the school. 

After the strike, the school principal was placed on unexplained leave on the recommendation of the Circuit Manager of Education in Mashishing, TG Mokwena. 

What concerns the DA is that the Task Team that was set up last year to investigate the allegations raised by NEHAWU, has not yet submitted any report and recommendations to the School Governing Body (SGB), and in the process, learners are continually denied proper access to education. 

Another matter of concern to the DA is that since 8 March 2023, the school has been held ransom by NEHAWU members, as learners that are accommodated in the hostel have not been able to return to school as there is no staff to look after them. This is in direct contravention of section 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa as these learners are deprived of their right to quality education. The staff responsible for the care of these boarders refuse to work shifts and, furthermore, refuse to work weekends, or on public holidays, even though their job description requires them to do so. 

Other staff members that are not affiliated to NEHAWU are continually blocked from entering the premises of the school. It is totally unacceptable that staff and educators who belong to other unions must bear this untenable situation, and furthermore, it is unlawful that a school is managed by a union rather than by a qualified and professional principal. 

DA Provincial Spokesperson on Education Ms. Jane Sithole MPL, will write to MEC Majuba, asking him to urgently intervene and settle this matter. We also call on the MEC to divulge why nothing has been done to restore the principal in her position, or to provide the SGB with a comprehensive report on the investigation that was to have taken place.