We will focus on improving school infrastructure in 2019 - Motshekga

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Angie Motshekga. (File, Netwerk24)
Angie Motshekga. (File, Netwerk24)

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says one of her department's priority areas this year will be improving the infrastructure of high schools.

The minister was in KwaZulu-Natal for the start of the 2019 school year.

Speaking to the SABC at Wembezi Secondary School in Estcourt on Wednesday morning, Motshekga said it was "embarrassing" to expect professionals to work in some of the conditions she had seen this week.

"The biggest, biggest push that provinces have to focus on is just getting basic infrastructure in place."

She added that, where there were schools which didn't have "good teachers", those children should be supported through the use of information and communication technologies.

Motshekga also urged communities to work with their education departments to ensure the safety of children in and around schools.

One of the provinces which had started the ball rolling on Motshekga's plan was Gauteng.

The province's education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, unveiled a new school building for Menzi Primary School in Tsakane, Ekurhuleni, on Wednesday.

'Anybody who touches these children touches us'

Lesufi was joined by Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Infrastructure Development MEC Jacob Mamabolo.

Since the 1990s, pupils had been taught in zinc shelters and other temporary structures.

Makhura said the school did not belong to the teachers and the children, but to the community, and therefore it was important for it to protect the school, as well as the pupils.

"We do not want any of our children to be abused, to be raped. Anybody who touches these children touches us," said Makhura.

Mamabolo explained that the school had 33 "smart classrooms",  two science laboratories, two computer labs, and a library.

The school also boasts a spacious sports ground and a tennis court, where pupils could take part in extramural activities.

Mamabolo said there was also a dining hall where food would be served to the children as part of the school's nutrition programme.

'If you burn this school, we will never repair it again'

"We are happy as Gauteng that since we came in 2014 under the leadership of our premier, we have been opening this kind of a school. Every month we have been opening a new school, and thanks to MEC Mamabolo.

"To date, this is the 53rd new school that we have given to the communities of Gauteng," added Mamabolo.

Lesufi encouraged parents to hold meetings at the school hall, but urged them to not destroy the facility.

"Today you are happy for the councillor and the principal, but once you're angry, if you burn this school, we will never repair it again," Lesufi said.

Lesufi said, if the community was disgruntled at the councillor and the school principal, they should not vandalise the school, but burn their tyres outside the school premises.

"Community, I am pleading with you to protect this school. If you see someone inside the school premises at night tell the police and we will solve that person."

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