Eradication of mud schools continues

Pretoria - The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has refuted a media report claiming government has not made progress in the eradication of mud schools in the Eastern Cape.

A Daily Dispatch article claimed that five years after the Eastern Cape government announced plans to eradicate hundreds of mud structures, the situation has not changed in many of those schools. In the article, the reporter interviewed various schools.

The DBE has noted the publication of an article in the Daily Dispatch purporting to be reporting on the Auditor General findings regarding the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI).

In the article, the reporter mentions four schools to back the claims made of lack of performance by the DBE. The ASIDI programme manager wishes to state that the schools in question are not part of the ASIDI programme, said the department.

The department said there were challenges with the ASIDI programme, including that projects exceed their timeframes for reasons that include poor contractor performance, community-led disruptions at work sites, poor terrain affecting suppliers' ability to deliver material on time and inclement weather, which worsens the ability to access sites, as well as site conditions.

Other challenges include a necessary and proactive attempting at saving the fiscus funds and avoiding the building of white elephants.

Population movements aside, low enrolment in some schools because of a small catchment area necessitated the need to consult with communities with a view to merging schools. This consultation took a long time to complete because of the sensitivity of the matter and the need to ensure that communities were on board with the decisions arrived at.

The result is 91 schools will be merged into 54 schools, a move that will ensure the long term feasibility of schools. ASIDI contracts are issued in keeping with well-established and laid down procedures, the department said.

According to the department, the ASIDI programme has built 177 schools to date, all of which are already occupied by learners. It said the programme has successfully provided basic services to schools over and above the new schools.

A total of 615 schools have been provided with water since the inception of the project during late 2011; 425 schools have received decent sanitation and 307 schools have been connected to electricity for the first time.

The ASIDI programme continues to deliver a dividend of democracy to communities across rural South Africa and in urban underprivileged areas. 54 schools will be completed in the 2016/17 financial year, said the department.

Source: South African Government News Agency