Dept: No school maintenance budget

2008-06-08 00:00

THE KZN Education Department currently has no planned maintenance strategy in place and any maintenance done is reactive in nature.

The department made the admission at an Education portfolio committee workshop on infrastructure provision in Durban on Friday.

The department has calculated that approximately R25 billion is required to address the backlog of classrooms, media centres, computer rooms and administrative buildings in schools, among other things.

However, a budget of only R1,2 billion has been allocated for infrastructure out of the department’s overall budget of R21 billion for the 2008/9 financial year.

There is a backlog of more than 10 000 classrooms and 17 000 pupils’ toilets. More than 700 schools are without water and over 2 000 do not have electricity.

However, the infrastructure budget is not just underfunded, the department does not have the capacity to spend the budget.

Education MEC Ina Cronjé said with only R1,2 billion to work with, the department is forced to make tough choices, and asked for the committee’s assistance in setting priorities.

“We are forced to weigh up need against costs, while sticking to the benchmark of our standards and norms so that we are not disturbed by degenerating structures tomorrow,” said Cronjé.

Lack of maintenance of school facilities has been recently highlighted by the unusable condition of the toilets at Richmond’s Indala High.

Cronjé said new priorities and initiatives, such as early childhood development, along with the new curricula upgrades, which require specialised and multi-purpose classrooms, are proving to be an added burden on the already existing backlog in infrastructure.

Cronjé said they cannot be expected to teach 21st century children with 19th century equipment.

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