Education concerned about crime in Botshabelo

Education MEC, Tate Makgoe.

One of the biggest flagship programmes of Free State Education is being hampered by the high crime rate in Botshabelo. This is according to Education MEC, Tate Makgoe. He said this township has become notorious for the high rate of theft-at-school cases that have a major impact on the operating of math labs at schools.
Makgoe says the security at schools in the area is a major concern as the biggest number of labs that are not currently operational are located in the Botshabelo area.
“The provincial education department spent approximately R10 million per year on math labs, but the security at schools in the province is a major concern,” said Makgoe. He said there are math labs at about 701 schools in the province, but about 124 of these centres are not fully operational. These labs are facing challenges such as the theft of computers and equipment.
“As some of the schools are running out of classrooms, they use the venues for the labs as classrooms,” said Makgoe. In some cases the teachers, who were initially trained to operate the labs, have been promoted to other schools and this has led to the closing of the labs. Makgoe says the problems at some of the labs are concerning, because Free State is one of the provinces where a definite improvement in the performance of learners who are making use of the math labs could be seen.
“Free State’s performance of learners up to grade six showed a significant increase and at schools where the labs are operating, the numbers of enrolment have also increased,” said Makgoe.
This is not the first time that the safety and security situation at schools have come under the spotlight. The Public Service Commission (PSC) in the province published a report earlier this year that raised concerns about the safety of children at schools and the impact of crime such as the theft of equipment, computers and even textbooks at schools. PSC Commissioner, Henk Boshof, said the department will have to look at the security situation at schools as some children were without textbooks after thieves had got away with their textbooks even before the school opened for the new academic year. The report followed visits to schools across the province to assess whether the department had timeously delivered textbooks and learning material to schools. Makgoe said his department is going to start mobilising communities to take ownership of the schools in their areas and help the department to secure schools’ buildings and much needed equipment. – Cathy Dlodlo