By Jane Sithole MPL, DA Spokesperson on Education:
At least 40% of Mpumalanga school children are being forced to continue without access to basic services such as water and sanitation, this despite the Education MEC’s promise to eradicate the basic services backlog at schools.
During her budget speech earlier this year, MEC Reginah Mhaule promised that the current financial year would see 178 schools benefiting from the eradication of the basic services backlog and her department set aside a budget of R241 million to achieve this.
While it initially seemed like the MEC was serious about eradicating this problem, the department’s plans and actions tell a different story. The department’s “Basic Services – water, sanitation & Electricity” document for the current financial year gives details of when these 178 projects should have started and when they are to be completed.
Of the 178 projects, 162 should have commenced in January this year to be completed by December 2015. The remaining 16 projects were to begin in the new financial year starting on 5 April 2015.
The DA conducted a snap survey of some of the schools that were listed by the department and should have benefited from the MEC’s promise, and it was confirmed that although they have been waiting for the department to start with the projects, nothing has been done at this point. A few schools reported that they had been visited by the department a month ago and measurements had been taken, however no contractor or materials have been delivered.
The learning conditions of learners in Mpumalanga schools are in stark contrast to schools in the DA-led Western Cape, were 100% of all schools listed on the National Education Infrastructure Management System (NEIMS) database have access to adequate sanitation.
The DA believes in constant innovation when it comes to improving the education system. This includes the maintenance of good physical infrastructure at schools as this enhances access to quality education, whilst inadequate and poorly maintained infrastructure compromises learners.
A proper learning environment is essential to ensure success in the classroom.