DBE must answer for losing R7.2 billion for mud schools

Annette Lovemore MP

DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) must be held accountable for losing a R7.2 billion grant to address schools infrastructure backlogs.

This money should have been used to replace mud schools, but National Treasury was forced to re-allocate the funds after the DBE failed to spend it.

The failure to spend this money for the purpose allocated is a national disgrace. There are 400 mud schools in the Eastern Cape alone. Learners all over South Africa are still taught in structures that are damp, cold and do not have basic necessities such as water, electricity and hygienic toilets.

The infrastructure backlog programme was highlighted in a court settlement concluded by the Legal Resources Centre in February last year on behalf of seven mud schools in the Eastern Cape.

In February this year the DBE made a commitment that 49 mud schools would be replaced with new buildings by August. They missed this deadline and extended it to November.

The reallocation of this money has now jeopardised the further targeted replacement of 100 schools in 2012/13 and 346 schools in 2013/14.

It is unacceptable that funds will now be reallocated as a general infrastructure grant to provinces – rather than being earmarked to address school infrastructure backlogs.

How can we reverse the legacy of apartheid education if our government can’t spend its money on giving all our learners the opportunities they need to succeed in life?

I will formally request that Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga explain to the Portfolio Committee how R7.2 billion earmarked for improving school infrastructure can go unspent. I will demand that she answers to us, to the court and to every learner in rural Eastern Cape attending an unsafe mud school on exactly how the promised 49 schools this year, the promised 100 schools in 2012/13 and the promised 346 schools in 2013/14 will be delivered.

Minister Motshekga, in a recent address to the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), said “we’re prepared to boil the ocean for better education”. Instead of preparing to boil the ocean, the Minister would be better advised to ensure her Department builds schools – it’s much easier and would actually benefit learners.

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