Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says government has taken action to fast-track the provision of school infrastructure.
Motshekga briefed the media on the progress made on infrastructure roll out in the basic education sector on Sunday.
The briefing follows the Council of Education Minister (CEM) meeting held recently to discuss a number of issues affecting the sector.
Motshekga said the education sector has been working on programmes to roll out school infrastructure across the country, but the matter became even more urgent after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, as they were faced with a major overcrowding crisis that needed urgent addressing.
Motshekga said in a bid to fast-track the provision of infrastructure in the schools that are in desperate need and make them safe havens for children, the department has taken action on two fronts.
“The first is we increased the technical capacity of officials in the infrastructure team by recruiting five built environment specialists, including a head of infrastructure, who are solely focused on implementing our infrastructure projects.
“Secondly, as you are aware, the President launched the Sanitation Appropriate For Education (SAFE) initiative to specifically address the infrastructure backlog in our schools. The rapid and successful rollout of Grade R in our schools meant that just under 4000 schools were found to be lacking in either age-appropriate infrastructure, in particular, or adequate infrastructure in general,” Motshekga said.
Government has been hard at work to keep the promise the President made at the launch of the SAFE initiative, this include identifying 3 398 schools that were lacking in infrastructure in one form or another, either not age appropriate or inadequate.
“Since that time, we have delivered 2 478 projects to schools across the country [and] during this period, we had the COVID pandemic which forced the lockdown of the country and significantly impacted implementation on the ground,” Motshekga said.
The Minister commended private sector companies who responded to the President’s appeal for the corporate social investment contribution to the entire effort, highlighting that out of the number of the completed projects, 184 were allocated to donors with 117 been completed.
She also noted that the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) Programme, which was created to eradicate schools built from inappropriate material, in their entirety, is nearing its end in the next financial year.
“Since the launch of ASIDI, government has delivered 315 entire schools out of a target of 331, 317 electrification projects, 1 259 water projects and, to come back to the specific subject at hand, all 1 053 planned sanitation projects. You can clearly see that we have not been sitting on our laurels.
“There is a lot we can achieve whether practically or in terms of national cohesion when we all pull together. That is not to say government must not be held to account but, at the very least, we call for a modicum of objectivity,” the Minister said.
The Minister also used the opportunity to reiterate government’s heartfelt condolences on the death of Langalam Viki whose body was found in a pit latrine at Mcwangele Junior Secondary School in the Eastern Cape.
She reported that the school where Langalam died has been provided with new South African National Standards approved infrastructure, meaning the school has new toilets.
However, Motshekga noted that there are certain questions that the department is interrogating surrounding the Langalam’s death, and invited the media to also interrogate them.
“Now, having said that, allow me to introduce a measure of controversy and I want to make absolutely sure that the media does not misrepresent my remarks. There are certain questions that we are interrogating and that we invite the media to interrogate as well,” said the Minister.
Source: South African Government News Agency