The Department of Education under the helm of MEC Ishmael Kgetjepe has failed to maintain infrastructure in Limpopo schools especially in the rural areas and now has an infrastructure backlog in excess of R 21 billion needed to meet the minimum norms and standard of classrooms requirements.
The conditions assessment conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on behalf of the department concluded in 2016 showed R21, 417, 096,472 was required for backlog and maintenance with the figure estimated to be over R26,7 billion by the end of 2019.
In a written response to a DA parliamentary question the department acknowledged R12, 6 billion in backlogs (excluding sanitation) and it was categorised as follows:
3714 ordinary classrooms at a cost of R 2.2 billion
1413 grade R classrooms at a cost of R R847.8 million
724 Nutrition centres at a cost of R 1.086 billion
415 Admin blocks at a cost of R1.037 billion
1142 Computer laboratories at a cost of R1.7 billion
1142 Science laboratories at a cost of R1.7 billion
1142 Libraries at a cost of R 1.7 billion
1142 School Halls at a cost of R2.3 billion
In the same responses the department acknowledged they did not have adequate funding to address the infrastructure backlog , and have only budgeted R3.4 billion over the MTEF period to address the infrastructure backlog with 20% of that amount (R698,3 miilion) set aside for maintenance over the same period.
The amounts being set aside is far too little to address the infrastructure backlog given the increase in the cost of addressing the backlog year after year due to inflation.
The state of our school infrastructure is a reflection of the ANC led government’s failures and empty promises over the last 25 years.
The negligence and poor management displayed by the department’s leadership will ultimately lead to the collapse of the education infrastructure in the province, and is simply unacceptable.
To further compound the matter, 3305 schools do not have access to libraries whilst 3098 do not have access to halls and 789 schools were built with inappropriate construction materials
This effectively means that many of our learners will start and finish school without having seen the infrastructure backlog addressed and most will be exposed to an inappropriate learning environment 25 years into our democracy.
Infrastructure maintenance and addressing the backlog must be prioritised over the development of new facilities and non-critical programmes of the department to ensure that learners are given the best opportunity to escape poverty and earn gainful employment.
The DA believes all learners deserve a dignified learning environment with suitable infrastructure and only a DA government will provide our children with a safe environment to ensure a quality education and build One South Africa for All.