The Provincial MEC of Education, Debbie Schäfer, has handed in her resignation to Premier Alan Winde, which he accepted. Her resignation takes effect on 15 May 2022.
Winde says he will be announcing changes to his Provincial Cabinet tomorrow, after a process of careful consideration.
In a statement, Schäfer said she is ready to bow out of public life, taking up an opportunity in the UK.
I have been in politics now for twenty years, serving in all three spheres of government. I believe I have made valuable contributions in each. It has been my great privilege to have served as Provincial Minister of Education in the Western Cape Government 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 in the 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.
She has also thanked former Premier Helen Zille for entrusting her with the responsibility as MEC 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 build 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.
Premier Winde has expressed his gratitude to the MEC for her service to the people of the Western Cape, especially the province’s children.
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.
She has been dedicated to supporting poor schools, with 61% of schools in the Western Cape now being “no fee” schools. This includes the additional assistance to quintile 4 and 5 schools to become “no fee” schools
During the COVID-19 pandemic, and the major impact that this had on the education sector, she worked hard to ensure our schools were prepared to protect those we love, 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.
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.