The Eastern Cape department of education has welcomed plans by national government to get rid of pit latrines and fix mud schools in the province as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa a few weeks ago.
City Press has been reporting about the number of schools with improper structures – most of them built of mud, sticks, asbestos and corrugated iron.
Visits to many of these schools around the province have exposed how dangerous and unsafe their pit latrines are.
At one such school – Luna Junior Secondary in Mbizana – Lumka Mketwa (5), drowned in a pit latrine last year.
City Press also reported about another incident of a five-year-old girl in a school in Centane, who almost drowned in a pit latrine at Dalibango Primary School last year.
The toilets were fixed early this year through the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative which was launched by Ramaphosa in August last year following Lumka’s death.
At least 244 schools in the Eastern Cape will have new toilets built through the SAFE initiative this financial year.
The province has also benefited from the Accelerated School Infrastructure Development Initiative (Asidi), which aims to replace schools made of mud, wood and asbestos.
ASIDI also helps deliver basic services to schools such as access to water, sanitation and electricity.
A number of schools have already been built through the ASIDI in the OR Tambo District Municipality.
Malibongwe Mtima, provincial education spokesperson, said the Eastern Cape needed R73 billion to get rid of all improperly built schools in the province.
Mtima said they welcomed any intervention that would reduce the infrastructure backlog.
“We welcome the assistance by the national government. It comes at the backdrop of our plight as a province with the high number of unsuitable schools. We have been making a clarion call to the national government to help us deal with this problem.
“We have been arguing with the national government, for instance, using the example of building stadiums prior to the 2010 Soccer World Cup, saying that these facilities were built in a short space of time and why not schools?”
He said they were also appealing to the private sector to join hands with the department and government in the projects to build proper schools.
“Remember we are a rural province that inherited a lot of mud schools from the Bantustan governments. So the intervention from national government and the presidency will assist us, it will go a long way,” Mtima said.
“So we are saying the private sector must also come on board because we want to eradicate all these mud structures and unsafe toilets and ensure that at the end of the day teaching and learning takes place at a conducive environment,” he said.
Ramasedi Mafoko, infrastructure director in the department of basic education, said R1.327 billion has been budgeted for Asidi in this financial year for all projects nationally.
The SAFE’s budget was R700 million, he said.
Mafoko said the SAFE programme had 244 projects planned for completion this financial year in the Eastern Cape alone.
According to Mafoko, the Asidi programme targets schools built, in their entirety, from inappropriate material.
“In this regard, all Asidi projects involve the building of a brand-new replacement school – complete with administration block, classrooms, science lab and computer lab which are often housed in the media centres or separately depending on school site or enrolment. Nutrition centres, multipurpose centre or halls [will also be built] again, depending on enrolment and Grade R centres,” said Mafoko.
Some of the schools which will be fixed are: Clarkson Primary School in Sarah Baartman District Municipality; Gabazi Junior Secondary School in Qumbu; Somagunya Senior Secondary School in Tsolo in the OR Tambo District Municipality; and Andrieskraal Primary School in the Kouga Local Municipality.
During his visit to Lusikisiki two weeks ago, the president said there were many projects focused on schools in the Eastern Cape.
“We are going to make sure that we work together with the various structures in our municipalities as we go on investing in maintenance and repairs in the various infrastructure installations that we have.
“Here [in the Eastern Cape] we also want to focus on 116 schools so that we can conclude the installation of better ablution facilities so that we get rid of pit latrines.
“We are seeking to ensure that we also get rid of mud schools. All these things that we are embarking on we believe we are well positioned for,” said Ramaphosa.
The president said the projects were meant to make sure that the education and schools outcomes of the province were improved.
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