|2012 05 30 Motshekga says government has plan to end ‘mud schools’|
The Department of Basic Education is confident of eradicating "inappropriate" structures such as mud schools over the next few years, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said yesterday.
Substandard school infrastructure has been cited as a barrier to quality education in SA. In an unprecedented move earlier this year, lobby group Equal Education said it would take Ms Motshekga, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and the nine provincial education MECs to court for their collective failure on school infrastructure.
The group argued that Ms Motshekga was by law obliged to "prescribe minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure".
In a reply to a parliamentary question yesterday, Ms Motshekga said the Accelerated School Infrastructure Development Initiative would ensure that "inappropriate" structures were done away with.
She said the main goal of the initiative was to ensure that during the 2010-14 medium-term expenditure framework, basic functionality targets were reached.
Ms Motshekga said the initiative was funded through the schools infrastructure backlog grant and that R8,2bn had been allocated over the 2010 medium-term expenditure framework. She said the department aimed to eradicate 496 inappropriate structures, provide basic water to 1257 schools, basic sanitation to 868 schools and electrify 878 schools.
According to Equal Education, about 3600 schools do not have electricity and 92% do not have a functional library. In KwaZulu-Natal, nearly 600 schools had no toilets and the Eastern Cape still had 395 mud schools. The group said 90% of schools do not have stocked computer centres and 95% of public schools do not have stocked and functional laboratories.
Equal Education co-ordinator Doron Isaacs said, however, that programmes such as the accelerated school infrastructure development initiative would not solve the infrastructure crisis as long as there were no standards in place.
"It is a good thing and we support it, but what we have been saying and we continue to say is that there should be a standard that the minister should expect from every province," Mr Isaacs said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Alliance KwaZulu-Natal education spokesman Tom Stokes said yesterday the provincial department needed options to address the lack of classrooms in the province.
The province's education department is the biggest in SA. In the 2010-11 financial year it built 2000 out of a shortfall of 7550 ordinary classrooms, leaving a 5550 backlog, while 3600 toilet facilities were built out of a backlog of 9936. This year's budget had allowed for 1800 new classrooms to be built.
"The current cost to erect a single classroom, excluding ground preparation, is R300000. This means R550m is needed to build 1800 classrooms, with little impact on the total classroom shortage as our school-going population increases," said Mr Stokes.
The Inkatha Freedom Party's Mntomuhle Khawula said R300000 for a classroom was too much, and was the result of too many role players.