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Eastern Cape under pressure to fix school infrastructure

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The pressure is mounting for the Eastern Cape Department of Education to swiftly address the school’s infrastructure backlog in the province. The department received petition from the community-based organisation Equal Education, demanding the provisioning of equal infrastructure for all schools.

The department was given 10 years to eradicate pit latrines and schools built with mud, asbestos, metal and wood. Today marks the deadline.

The Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, account for the majority of the national school infrastructure backlogs. Learners who are part of the march say their environment is not conducive for learning.

They are calling on government to address the failures expeditiously.

“We do not have adequate furniture at school and that results to overcrowding and we have been campaigning but the department is not hearing us.  Learners are not preforming to the best of their abilities due to this overcrowding.”

Another learner says,” There is no change when it comes to the improvement of our schools. There is a lack of textbooks and our school infrastructure, when it’s raining the ceilings are falling, it affects us a lot. We don’t have teachers, so we ask the department to help us, we want answers from the department.”

 

During the mid-term budget speech last week Finance MEC Mlungisi Mvoko announced a R761 million cut in conditional grants.
The schools’ infrastructure grant was shaved by more than R200 million. The Head of Equal Education in the province, Itumeleng Mothlabane says this is unacceptable.

“We have about 506 schools that still have no form of sanitation. We are saying today that is a crime, the MEC and the Minister of Education cannot get away with this, they must listen to community voices.”

Although there are challenges in addressing the issue, the spokesperson of the Provincial Education Department Malibongwe Mtima says they are attending to these issues.

“If we are discussing the issue of backlog, we can’t forget the economic prioritisation which is your budget cuts and all other things that are part of it, that is why we saying allow us a chance to read the petition, after reading we will comment officially and we will also ensure that all institutions are copied so that at the end of the day you are aware of what we are doing.”

The department has been given 14 days to come up with a response and detailed plan going forward.

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