Eastern Cape Schools Continue To Face Infrastructure Challenges
Schools in the Eastern Cape have been facing challenges with basic infrastructure for many years leaving learners to be taught in unsafe environments and affecting their quality of education.
In the African National Congress' (ANC) annual January 8th statement, President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted the need for improved school infrastructure to meet acceptable standards. He also said that a need exists to up-skill teachers, especially those in rural areas and townships.
Many schools around the country have been operating in poorly built structures and teachers and students have had to make use of pit toilets.
Eastern Cape schools are dealing with majority of the countries basic infrastructure problems, with the province having the highest number of pit toilets.
The province has around 5400 schools, of which 2500 schools have ventilated pit litrines, around 2000 have pit litrines and 1598 have unsafe or inappropriate pit toilets. In addition to this 37 schools in the province have no toilets.
SABC News spoke to Democratic Alliance's (DA) shadow educatiom minister in the Eastern Cape, Yusuf Cassim who said that the situation in the province was very concerning.
Around 45% of the province's entire budget is allocated to education.
Cassim says the amount spent on infrastructure has been mismanaged and under-expenditure has occurred in previous years and since the Covid-19 pandemic has begun over half a billion rand has been spent on personal protective equipment (PPE).
This further contributed to the infrastructure backlogs in the province.
Cassim says that they estimate that it will take at least 32 years to eliminate unsafe sanitation as no concrete plan exists right now to eradicate this issue.
"Our children, their lives continue to be placed at risk in this fashion," said Cassim.
Infrastructure projects had been targeted and budgeted for by the Sanitation Appropriate For Education (SAFE) Initiative which was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa. However mismanagement of the budget and the projects have caused delays in improvements being made to infrastructure at schools.
Cassim says that some schools still have asbestos roofing which is an inappropriate building material according to Norms and Standards. Over 400 mud schools also exist within the province. These conditions are putting the health and safety of all learners and educators at risk and affecting the quality of education that learners receive.
Cassim says that the DA has laid complaints with the Human Rights Commission and they have written to the Premier to take hold of the situation.
"Unless we are able to have a change within the governance of the department itself, we are not going to see any change within the management of these programmes."- DA Shadow Education Minister, Yusuf Cassim.
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