Basic Education Portfolio Committee concerned about scale of damage at schools

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Members of Parliament’s Basic Education Portfolio Committee have expressed concerns about the scale of damage to schools during the recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. They have called on communities to realise that destroying schools is tantamount to destroying the futures of their children.

The committee has been briefed by officials of the national as well as the two provincial departments. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education says the cost from the vandalism and looting of schools in the province amounts to more than R100 million. The total number of schools affected stands at 144.

Of these, 130 will cost less than R500 000 each to repair while the repair of the others will be over that amount per school.

MEC Kwazi Mshengu says this has added to the damage already done during the lockdown. He says this is made worse by the budget cuts they have suffered this year.

Mshengu says the violence has had a big impact on their preparation for this year’s matric exams.

“It completely collapsed our matric intervention programme.  The winter programme that we always have and that which we had planned to proceed with during the holidays because we had to cancel everything to prioritise the safety of learners and educators. But also the infrastructure damage that has been suffered adds on the already existing backlog of schools that have been damaged in the past by criminal elements but also inclement weather conditions.”

Mshengu says he is particularly concerned that virtually nobody has been prosecuted in connection with the vandalisation of schools.

Organisations, including Save the Children, have also condemned the vandalism of schools: 

Although Gauteng schools were less impacted by the violence as compared to KwaZulu-Natal, the province is still unhappy with the general trend of vandalism that has happened. This has been especially the case since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Deputy Director-General for planning Albert Channe says 400 schools have been broken into.

“In all burglaries learning and teaching equipment has been stolen, together with ICT items and we know that is high priority item for theft. What should be noted in Gauteng is all township high schools are benefiting from ICT,  so there is a high rollout into those schools and we know there is high information on what is going into those schools around the community.”

African National Congress Member of Parliament  Patamedi Moroatshehla called on the committee to issue a statement condemning the damage to schools.

Members have also agreed to go on a fact-finding visit to the two provinces soon.