The Western Cape MEC of Education, Debbie Schäfer, handed in her resignation to Premier Alan Winde on Wednesday which he accepted.
Schäfer said that it has been a privilege to serve as the Education MEC for the province and believes that she has made valuable contributions in each three spheres of government that she has worked in over the past 20 years.
“It has been my great privilege to have served as provincial Minister of Education in the Western Cape government (WCG) for the last eight years.
“I believe I have left the department in a better place than I found it, and am proud of the work that we have, together, achieved.
“I am, however, now ready to bow out of public life. I am in a fortunate position to have been offered a job in the legal sector in the UK, which I have accepted.
“I will be joining some of my family there which presents a unique opportunity for us to experience together,” Schäfer said.
Schäfer said that she will leave office with effect from May 15, 2022.
She also thanked former premier Helen Zille for entrusting her with the position and responsibility, and Premier Alan Winde for his leadership and support.
“Premier Winde has recently announced bold and exciting changes to the WCG and I am excited for what this will lead to.
“A new Minister of Education will be afforded an opportunity to both builds on the tremendous work of our team to date, as well as to introduce change with their own approach and ideas.
“I remain committed to the Democratic Alliance, and have no intention of resigning my membership. I also remain of the view that the DA is the only hope to rescue South Africa from the current trajectory, and which can realise the immense potential that we have,” Schäfer said.
Premier Alan Winde praised Schäfer for her excellent service to the people of the Western Cape, and expressed his gratitude for her service to the people of the province.
“Anyone who knows Debbie knows that she is a strong and tenacious leader, who fights hard each and every day to ensure a well-run, quality-focused education system in the Western Cape.
“Her results speak for themselves. The Western Cape has the highest bachelor pass rate in the country, and has reached our highest retention rate ever.
“Debbie also oversaw the establishment of the Schools Evaluation Authority, the first in the country. This entity provides an important, independent oversight function over the quality of education at our schools, to ensure that we are always striving for the best,” Winde said.
Winde added that Schäfer has been dedicated to supporting poor schools, with 61% of schools in the Western Cape now being “no fee” schools, which includes the additional assistance to quintile 4 and 5 schools to become “no fee” schools.
He said that during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the major impact that this had on the education sector, she worked hard to ensure Western Cape schools were prepared to protect loved ones, while ensuring learning continued.
“And we were the only province, under her watch, to take proactive steps to feed school children during the lockdown. She did not need to be ordered by a court to do so.
“Under her leadership, we have invested significantly in E-learning and embraced innovation to ensure that our education system moves with the times.
“And despite budget constraints, we have continued to build many new schools and classrooms to respond to the needs of our growing population.
“We will miss her sharp attention to detail and steadfast commitment to the values we share, and I thank her for the important role she played in our cabinet. I am confident that she will be a great success in her new endeavour,” he said.
Winde added that on Friday morning, he will announce changes to his provincial cabinet, following a process of careful deliberation.
“We are determined to use this post-disaster moment to make the changes we need to move forward. As I announced during my State of the Province Address, in February, we must push back against going back to normal, and we must push forward to do even better.
“I intend to do just this so that we deliver on our priorities of jobs, safety, and well-being for all,” he said.
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