Department’s neglect of Jubilee Park Primary shameful


The success of any country’s education system is largely dependent on the mutual trust and collaboration between all partners.

For the education system to be successful we need a committed and hardworking teaching corps, interested and participatory parents and pupils, as well as a collaborative education department.  

Can we trust the department of education with the education of our children?

I am trying to be calm.

I am saying to myself, you have retired, you are a senior citizen, stay out of it.

However, I can no longer sit back and say nothing about the travesty, the debasing of education, taking place at Jubilee Park Primary.

Thousands of parents, pupils, teachers and the community of Uitenhage will always be part of Jubilee Park Primary.

It was one of those schools that everyone respected, always expecting that the best would come from that school.  

During the holidays, no fewer than 20 people stopped me, inquiring when our school was going to be completed and asking: “Meneer, gaan ons weer dubbelskof klasse moet trotseer?” (Sir, are we going to have double-shift classes again?). 

When past and present teachers from my former school speak to me about the school, it is with extreme disappointment and disillusionment about the education of our children.

When I say “our” children, I mean the children from “Blikkiesdorp”, from Gerald Smith, from Thomas Gamble and Rosedale, as well as the 300 or so children being transported from KwaNobuhle every day.

Jubilee Park has been subjected to double-shift classes since 2013.

How can the teachers at Jubilee Park sleep at night?

How can the parents of those 1,200+ children sleep at night?

Moreover, how do [education minister] Angie Motshekga and her bureaucrats ever sleep?

They are directly responsible for the mess in which the school finds itself.

Grade7s at that school have never had a full day’s schooling in their school life.

Those children have been subjected to double-shift classes from grade 1, and possibly even grade R.

Those kids are ill-prepared for high school.

When the project of refurbishing the school started, I was asked to be part of the infrastructure committee of the SGB.

We attended numerous meetings that, on reflection, made little sense.

We were in any case promised the building would be completed within two years — and this included the building of a school hall.

This was seven years ago.

In 2017, when fires swept the south coast from Knysna eastward, parts of the Woodridge school were destroyed.

Within days, parents meetings were held, venues were found and the school proceeded as normal as possible.

Though the situations cannot be compared, the gap between the two systems of education in this country is stark.

Woodridge was soon after restored to its former glory.

Jubilee Park Primary caters for the poor — those who are needed when elections and voting take place.

Departmental officials will probably be sent to the school in the next few days; they will tinker around, make promises and leave because nobody is making enough noise about the 3½ hours of schooling pupils receive every day.

Show me the politician or departmental official whose child at school receives 3½ hours of schooling a day.   

For the last seven years, those pupils  have not had normal academic schooling, no sport or any cultural activities.

Is this schooling?

It is unacceptable and worse than gutter education.

Let Motshekga stand on her soapbox and announce the 81,3% pass rate for the 2019 matriculants, and the DA shadow minister of education, Nomsa Marchesi, opportunistically and haughtily putting the “real” result at 38.9% — their children have not been subjected to this type of education.

We have an uncaring government — those in authority (power is a more accurate description) have their children at former Model C or private schools — but our children have to go to schools like Jubilee Park.  

Recently Ramaphosa, in opening the education lekgotla hosted by the education department, said the following: “All our learners should be able to read for meaning by their tenth birthday.

“Our mathematics and physical science pass rates should be comparable with, if not better than, nations of similar size and budget.”    

How is this possible with 3½ hours of schooling a day?

Alternatively, does this exclude the children of the poor in Blikkiesdorp and other impoverished areas?

Shame on you, Ramaphosa.

Mores the shame on you, Motshekga, and your department, the MEC, the local director and his officials for allowing this situation to develop to this deplorable level.

Every one of you is individually and collectively responsible for this criminal neglect of the children of Jubilee Park Primary.

Hamilton Petersen, former principal, Jubilee Park Primary