Education department’s U-turn on PPE

The Eastern Cape department of education (DoE) made a sudden about-face after announcing that, despite it’s earlier statements, it will be funding procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) for schools.

As reported in the Daily Dispatch, the department said it would source R24.1m to purchase PPE in the first academic quarter.

Last week, the DoE announced that schools would have to use their on funds, a decision which was met with heavy criticism from all sides.

DA shadow MEC for finance Retief Odendaal called it “callous and heartless” and accused EC education MEC Fundile Gade of “setting schools in the province up for failure”.

Speaking on Tuesday, department spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima outlined how the department would go about funding the acquisition of PPE.

The money, Mtima proposed, would be diverted from the national School Nutrition Programme and HIV/Aids grants.

This has led to even more criticism, with DA education portfolio committee member in the Bhisho legislature Yusuf Cassim saying that the nutrtion programme was under enough strain as it is.

“The HIV/Aids grants are for HIV awareness and are minimal. Neither of these sources of funding has anything to do with PPE,” he said.

National Professional Teachers Organisation (Naptosa) member Loyiso Mbinda said the decision to transfer funds from the grants and nutrition programme would create confusion, but said Naptosa welcomed the department’s commitment to provide PPE to schools.

“If the department shall honour that promise [to provide PPE], Naptosa shall be highly pleased as its earlier decision for schools to buy PPE on their own was annoying, disturbing and impractical,” Mbinda said.

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