On Tuesday our Free State Premier Mme Sephora Ntombela addressed those in attendance at this year’s 2019 State of the Province Address at the Vista Arena located at the University of the Free State’s South Campus. With an emphasis on education in the Free State, the Premier began by mentioning the thousands of learners who still had to walk long distances to get to school in this day and age and has pledged to prioritise education during the 2019/2020 fiscal year.

One such area includes Caleb Motshabi informal settlement in Bloemfontein, also known as Dinaweng where learners still have to walk quite a distance into other locations to attend school as there is no school in their area. Construction on the one school that was being built in that area last year came to halt during tensions between contractors who were responsible for the new school building. It is because of this failure to meet commitments that Premier Ntombela issued a warning to all contractors to either complete work allocated to them or risk being removed and blacklisted as a result. She did however mention that building at this school will reconvene and the school will be open by June this year, along with 10 other schools across the Free State, with another 8 being built in the rest of 2019 including a Special School in Trompsburg.

With the opening of these schools, comes job creation for educators in the Free State and the Premier mentioned that there are now 2271 vacant positions for educators in the Free State that Department aims to fill in the year 2019. She also mentioned that since 2018, the Education Department has been absorbing temporary educators and placing them in permanent positions which has resulted in 716 educators who were previously in temporary positions, became permanent employees.

“We treasure the value of education in improving the quality of life of our people in the province. Quality education furthers social and economic development. It lifts people out of poverty, unlocks potential, end ignorance and nurtures democracy. Education is the pathway to our desired growth and development destination in the Free State.”

Premier Ntombela also spoke on the ills in schools such as latrine pits and violence on educators. There are currently 156 schools that are making use of pit toilets in the Free State and she is set to do away with the dehumanizing toilets by appointing local contractors in the building of new flush toilets. She called out to parents to be involved in their children’s education and daily lives as many of the incidents involving teacher/scholar violence can often be traced back to gangsterism, and thanked the members of various School Governing Bodies for the decline in violence in schools following interventions that were implemented from August 2018.

Education is just as important to us here at BloemGirlsRock as we have been enrolling our girls in Computer Literacy classes from the beginning of 2018, with this year’s classes commencing in March to equip them with the necessary skills for this digital era and the 4th Industrial Revolution. There are 24 Mzansi Libraries Online equipped with computers and Wi-Fi that are set to open this year to assist the unemployed youth in finding job opportunities.