All Gauteng public school trips, where activities are water related, will now be approved by the education department’s head office and not by the district or schools themselves.
This was announced by Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Friday as he released a preliminary report into the drowning of 13-year-old Enoch Mpianzi.
Mpianzi and 197 other pupils embarked on a trip to Nyati Bush and River Break lodge near Brits in North West as part of their Grade 8 orientation camp. He drowned during a water activity, just hours after arrival at the camp on Wednesday.
His body was found last Friday morning following a search that was launched on Thursday afternoon.
There has been wide-spread criticism of the school, lodge and department following the incident, resulting in the department roping in an independent law firm to conduct a forensic investigation into the matter.
In the meantime, to avoid similar incidents in the future, the department has taken steps to change the chain of command, in terms of approval of school trips, and to embark on a process of reviewing indemnity forms.
“As a department, we have already taken a decision that all water related trips should get authorisation immediately from head office, and no longer at school or district level, but they must come directly to head office. This we believe will assist us to ensure that we protect our learners,” Lesufi said.
The MEC said Gauteng Priemier David Makhura had also directed that all indemnity forms be appropriately revised and that there be explanations, in the form of a guiding document, where there was confusion.
“The premier is of the view that these indemnity forms are used to exonorate those that don’t execute their mandate,” he said.
The department said it had also issued a communique that it would be reviewing all upcoming camps to ensure that all relevant approvals were made.
Parktown Boys’ High School was meant to embark on a trip to Bloemfontein later this month. It has since been cancelled the trip in honour of Mpianzi.
The department said it was determined to ensure the impact of all “unfortunate incidents” that had hit the Gauteng education sector since the start of the year, were minimised and eradicated.