The Joe Solomon Primary School in Heidedal is entering a new chapter that boasts a habitable place of education, officially unveiled on Friday (15/10).
This follows the completion of work to transition from asbestos fibre as building material, which is hazardous to health, through an infrastructure investment initiative by Avbob.
Angie Motshekga, minister of Basic Education, and Carl van der Riet, Avbob chief executive officer, presided over the unveiling ceremony that marked the handover to the Free State Department of Education.
The unveiling is the culmination of work done over four years. This entailed demolishing the asbestos structure, safely discarding of all hazardous material and preparing the 4 235 m² to rebuild from scratch new school infrastructure: laboratories, classrooms, computer rooms and ablution facilities. This reportedly cost R45 million.
“Most pleasing is that the rebuilt school has modern toilets that conform to our norms and standards in the basic education sector,” said Motshekga.
“To address the perennial issue of school safety, new perimeter fencing has been installed.
“The school boasts brand-new state-of-the-art centres: a nutrition centre, media centres and cutting-edge science and computer laboratories.”
Van der Riet referred to the significance of the change, going into the future.
“To the educators of the school, your tireless efforts on behalf of the learners will decide nothing less than the future success of our country,” he said.
“I have come to realise that the Heidedal community is a fundamental part and cornerstone of a successful school.
“As joint owners of this school, the future is now in your hands to ensure that it is well utilised and produce the leaders and achievers that South Africa needs.”
The upgrade done at Joe Solomon forms part of a mutual and strategic partnership between the funeral service group and the Department of Basic Education.
Nakedi Pilane, group director, explained that in July 2017, in celebration of Mandela Day, the group announced a pledge to invest R150 million in the refurbishment of selective schools across the country. This initiative is known as the Schools Infrastructure Project.
“More than R270 million is in fact invested towards the infrastructure project, which is aligned with the Department of Basic Education’s Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative,” she said.
Joe Solomon has 6 administrative staff members to accommodate 42 educators and 26 supporting staff members. There are classrooms for 1 401 learners.
“We are thrilled about our new school,” said Quentin Canavan, Joe Solomon’s principal.
“This will go a long way towards providing our youth with an education that future generations can benefit from.”