KZN must get ‘creative’ to fix schools

2008-06-09 00:00

KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape have the worst school infrastructure backlogs, it emerged at a recent workshop on the issue.

The KZN Education Department says it needs R25 billion to deal with the backlogs, but this year, only R1,2 billion of a total R21 billion Education budget in KZN was allocated to infrastructure.

Members of the Education portfolio committee said the scale of the problem must be reported to the provincial cabinet and to the national government. “The department has adopted standards and benchmarks as to what a school should be and look like,” said workshop chairman Senzo Mchunu. “The delivery on stadiums proves there is money … ”

It was suggested that the department look for alternative ways of funding needed buildings.

Solly Mafoko of the national department said they have been mandated by cabinet to find creative ways of dealing with backlogs. “We are currently looking at capital funding strategies with the World Bank,” he said.

Schools under dept scrutiny

Sphumelele Mngoma

THE Education Department has commissioned two projects to investigate the consolidation of non-viable schools.

Under-performing schools lose pupils when parents send their children to schools far from where they live to get a better education, causing overcrowding in some areas and empty classes in others.

At a workshop on the infrastructure backlog, DA KZN Education spokesman Radley Keys said the department has failed to address the issue.

Superintendent-general Cassius Lubisi said it is especially important to consolidate farm schools and small schools, because often they have too few teachers, who do not specialise in any one subject. “We would rather transport those children to schools that would give them a fighting chance of making it as future doctors and engineers,” said Lubisi.

Lubisi was not opposed to the idea of reopening boarding schools, especially since there are many child-headed households who do not have the support of a parent or guardian.

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