Poor school infrastructure is said to be one of the main factors impacting academic performance. Conditions at some schools in the North West are appalling, infringing on the right to quality education.  Dilapidated classrooms, overcrowding and pit toilets putting learners’ health and safety at risk; those are conditions at Kgosi Shope Secondary School in Setlhwatlhwa, North West.

The school’s SGB and parents say they’re concerned. They say there are 123 learners in one Grade 8 class while Grade 11’s and grade 12’s are taught Maths and Physical Sciences in a shack.

Martha Matashu, North West University’s Director of Education, says poor infrastructure affects academic performance.  “There is strong evidence that high-quality infrastructure betters instructions and improves learners’ academic performance and reduces dropout rates. Therefore, the implication is that the lack of infrastructure might be a barrier that might lead to the realisation of education as a fundamental constitutional right.”

In 2018 the North West Education Department failed to spend its infrastructure grants. The money was eventually transferred to its Eastern Cape counterpart, a blunder the department has vowed never to repeat.

Department spokesperson Elias Malindi says they have now employed qualified people to manage projects.  “We have now employed qualified people who can deal with projects such as project managers, architects. So we believe that going forward, we will not be able to experience the past incident where the money was transferred to another province.”

The department says it is upgrading school infrastructure, but with the year-end exams already underway, it will be too late for many pupils.