City Press schools exposé: dept pledges more schools for EC

2012-03-27 08:50

Fifty-four more unsafe schools are set to be rebuilt by national government in the Eastern Cape in the coming financial year as part of the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (Asidi), the provincial department of education has said.

The official announcement is set to be made by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

This number is in addition to 28 schools started this financial year, which were meant to be finished at the end of March, but have now been earmarked for completion in August. This number (the 28) was dropped from the 50-plus mooted last year.

Eastern Cape education boss Modidima Mannya revealed the plans to rebuild 54 more schools in response to a City Press report on the infrastructure breakdown at Qonce High School in King William’s Town.

“I want to take this opportunity to also voice my own indignation and acknowledgement that infrastructural decay of that magnitude is completely unacceptable, and clearly calls for more urgency in government’s stated intention of eradicating all mud and unsafe school structures,” said Mannya of the situation at Qonce High.

He added his department’s head of infrastructure would immediately assess the school’s urgent needs, and provide temporary structures.

Mannya has called for a province-wide assessment of schools – beyond those where structures are already set for eradication and replacement – and now wants his department to find a way for communities to report such schools.

Across the province dissatisfaction with school infrastructure has caused disruptions this month, with learners at one school in Transkei torching their dilapidated building out of frustration.

Qonce High is one of 24 schools that submitted affidavits in the court matter where NGO Equal Education (EE) and two others are seeking to compel Motshekga to develop minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure.

The applicants are represented by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), which previously brokered the “mud schools” settlement agreement which gave birth to Asidi.

Cameron McConnachie from the centre’s offices in Grahamstown welcomed Mannya’s pledge but warned that “without norms and standards, the appalling conditions at schools like Qonce will continue indefinitely and government’s plans to address the crisis will continue to be haphazard and uncoordinated”.

The department budgeted R3.6 billion for school infrastructure over the next three years, but to date it has not done an assessment of all schools in the province, he added.

McConnachie said papers served on Motshekga and Eastern Cape education MEC Mandla Makupula contained the names of at least eight schools in the province that are in dire need of assistance. “Conditions at all of those schools deserve Mannya’s indignation and urgent attention,” he said.

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