Community holds service for ‘divine intervention’ to solve crisis in classrooms
EDUCATION came under the spotlight yesterday when the Northern Areas Education Forum (NAEF) joined forces with church leadership for a mass service to pray for the state of education.
Held at the United Congregational Church in Bloemendal, the mass service drew nearly 300 people, including teachers, principals and mayor Danny Jordaan.
Forum secretary Richard Draai said he was happy that so many parents attended to show their support and solidarity in fighting for the rights of their children.
Of the 56 schools represented by NAEF, all took part in a show of solidarity, with bands leading parades to the church from various points in the community.
Draai said the church could no longer remain quiet on the issues of poor quality education and that “the situation is dire and needs to be addressed”.
Issues raised included overcrowding of classes, teachers not being paid and the Department of Education’s decision to drop 4 000 teaching posts across the province, Draai said .
“Schools have become fund-raising institutions, so bringing a lot of financial pressure on the schools which is a totally unacceptable situation.
“Principals are now struggling to plan for 2016.”
Draai said these were serious issues which needed to be addressed and that something needed to happen after the problems were first raised as far back as June last year.
“We are here to pray for answers for our children,” he said.
During the service, which was interspersed with prayers, nonteaching school staff spoke of their experiences, including not being paid for nearly a year and the dehumanising effect of this on the morale of educators.
Retired primary school teacher Arthur Grootboom said it was a child’s right to receive education in a clean environment. He said he had not received a cent from the department since 2010.
“This is because of inefficiency and mismanagement in the department [of education],” Grootboom said.
Draai said the initial idea to host the mass prayer meeting came about through various interactions and the decision was made to call for divine intervention.
“We are here today to pray over the dire effects of substandard education and services,” he said.
Jordaan told the congregation he knew the importance of education and that it was painful for him to listen to the stories shared by those affected by the situation. “I believe in justice, equal opportunities and hope and these are very important factors in education,” he said.
Jordaan confirmed that 157 non-teaching posts had been made available and that the metro would pay for those employed.
On teachers not being paid, Jordaan said he believed there was no reason for this.
“I cannot explain. It cannot be explained,” he said.
Jordaan said no one needed to convince him that there were problems with education.
“Let us all come together and deal with this and other issues.
“Focus and energy must be placed on education . . . I will do all I can to help,” he said.