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PANYAZA LESUFI | Burglaries at schools rob people of proper development

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi

As the MEC for education in Gauteng, I am appalled by the burglaries, break-ins and vandalism at some of the provincial schools.

A theft ring is preying on schools, stealing computers and other electronics. The thieves are not just stealing property. They are stealing our children's education.

They frustrate our strategy of infrastructure, innovation and education.

And the people who buy stolen goods support criminal activities, while we work hard with schools, the police and security experts to try and reduce burglaries.

Schools are places of learning, not fortresses.

Every cent spent on security or repairing damaged property is a cent not spent on education.

Thieves have stolen hundreds of computers and other electronics.

These days, thieves are not only breaking into school properties to steal equipment, portable devices and others.

They also steal canned food and other products which are meant for the school's feeding scheme.

I was recently shattered, angry and emotionally devastated by the arrest of four women in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria.

They were allegedly caught selling canned food and other foodstuff meant for a school feeding scheme.

What irked me more was that the thefts were allegedly committed by people employed by the department to look after school property and pupils.

We lost a security guard who was killed in one of these break-ins.

So why do I say the break-ins and thievery are frustrating our strategy of infrastructure, innovation and education?

The National Development Programme wants 11 million more jobs to be created by 2030.

Labour-intensive manufacturing and export sectors need to be expanded. Money has to be allocated to key infrastructure projects as an enabler for job creation.

The improvement of quality of education and skills development are crucial.

Just as the late former president Nelson Mandela said: "Rhetoric is not important. Actions are."

Investing in infrastructure is central to our nation's development. Having the right core infrastructure is what levels the playing field on all social and economic fronts.

That is why I have dreamt of a province and a country where every kid has a laptop, an educational iPad and electronic-based teaching aids.

Technology is going to be a central part of everyday life.

But the break-ins at schools and the stealing of foodstuffs paint a galling picture of the calibre of persons we are. At the helm of the anti-apartheid Struggle, education was central.

Stealing from our schools is an insult to those who fought to have what children enjoy today.

The burglaries cause considerable disruption.

In some cases essential course work and important records are lost.

Our efforts to track those involved in school crime are ongoing. We need to bring offenders to book.

Help us catch offenders who are damaging the education of all our children.

The money needed to replace stolen items comes from the budget of the affected school, thus robbing it of resources to develop further.

The Gauteng department of education and the police are committed to fighting and reducing crime.

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