Oversight is a function granted by the Constitution to Parliament to oversee effective management of government action. How it is done in practice is that a parliamentary committee is assigned one department to oversee and often, to get to the nitty gritty, the committee will go on an oversight visit to a province to see what is happening on the ground.
LiveMag SA recently published an article on the outcomes of the oversight visits to Port Elizabeth and Limpopo by the Portfolio Committees on Basic Education and Telecommunications and Postal Services. MPs assessed the progress made after the recent protests in Port Elizabeth schools and the lack of Internet access experienced by schools in Limpopo.
In their first quarterly report to the Committee on 11 August 2015, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) mentioned that 1 050 schools were targeted for ICT access this financial year. MTN, Cell C, Neotel and Vodacom had all committed to funding 300 schools per financial year over five years and 325 schools had already been connected through Vodacom as part of their licence obligations. The Minister had set a goal that all schools should be connected by 2019.
In a joint meeting with both Committees in September last year, different service providers and stakeholders made presentations on their roles in connecting schools to Broadband, the challenges they faced and their future plans. Members’ main concerns centred on the lack of coordination among all the service providers, as well as between the two government departments, and urged that this fragmentation needed to be addressed with urgency. They also expressed disappointment that the service providers were less focused on rural areas and schools located on the periphery.
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