The North West Department of Education wishes to dispel reports circulating in the public space that schools in the province are in a dire state. This follows after different media houses published negative reports on issues of school infrastructure in the North West, and the department wishes to set the record straight on this matter.
The department was invited to appear before the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to report about the status of school infrastructure in the province. On Wednesday, 24 March 2022, the department complied, and presented a detailed report to the SAHRC on progress made in improving the conditions of schools in the province.
The report to the Human Rights Commission reflected on the following:
A total number of 13 schools were newly constructed and completed in the four districts since 2018. In Bojanala District, there were six newly built schools; four completed schools in Modiri Molema District; two newly completed schools in Dr Kenneth Kaunda District; and in Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati there was 1 new school completed.
Since 2018, there have been many additions to schools that were completed. The additions to schools included – a variety of improvements, ranging from construction of classrooms, nutrition centres, administration blocks, fenced Grade R classrooms with age-appropriate ablution facilities, ablution blocks, multipurpose halls, sports facilities with change rooms, parking bays, drop-off zones, assembly areas, water sewer reticulation including storm water channels, dormitories for boys and girls, and the erection of perimeter fences.
There are about 71 schools wherein maintenance was completed across the province. These schools received the following improvements – repairs and renovations of existing blocks including water borne ablution facilities (Boys, girls, paraplegic, and staff toilets), plus plumbing works.
Construction of new septic tanks, in accordance with the engineer’s details, were installed across our four districts. Monitoring and maintenance of the condition of all the existing boreholes and repairs /servicing, were carried out in accordance with the engineers’ instructions.
For 2022/2023 financial year, the department has 15 new projects identified, which are at initiation stage. These projects have been budgeted for and projected for implementation.
There are 18 new projects identified, and they are at initiation stage; and 3 of the Professional Services Providers have already been appointed, and allocated with budgets for the same year, in anticipation that construction will start in 2023
There are 19 completed schools at the handover stage, and are already occupied by the learners across the province.
The department has identified 108 school projects with complete or partial structures. An appropriate budget has been allocated for these schools to be refurbished during the 2022/23 financial year. A list of contractors that are qualified to remove asbestos have been compiled. It must be remembered that asbestos removal is a specialised function. Hence the list was compiled, comprises of specialist service providers, who are adequately qualified to undertake such a function.
This far, the department has eradicated all pit latrines across the province. There are some areas wherein they experienced serious underground water challenges. The department has provided those areas with alternative technologies of a variety of dry solutions, including VIP and enviroloo toilets, which are tested and approved by the Department of Water and Sanitation. These types of toilets, are being built by municipalities across the province.
The MEC for the Department, MEC Mmaphefo Matsemela emphasized that they are continuing to build new schools, additional blocks, maintenance of buildings, constructing and maintaining ablution facilities, erecting perimeter fences across the province, providing water and sanitation in schools, constructing dormitories and nutrition centres, and providing school furniture across the province.
“As the department we are optimistic on improving the schooling conditions for the learners and educators. It is important for the learning environment to be conducive for learning and teaching to be effective. When the learning environment is not conducive, learners are unable to learn, and teachers are unable to teach effectively.
“The process of improving the learning and teaching spaces, is a continuous programme; and we are therefore, hopeful that in time, we would be able to cover all schools which need our attention”, said MEC Matsemela.
MEC Matsemela further conceded that the conditions of their education infrastructure, is a moving target. It is for this reason that they will conduct the condition assessment of all education infrastructure.
“A clear understanding of the state of infrastructure in the province, will make the department prioritise schools that are in dire need of intervention. With the prioritisation of infrastructure maintenance in the Education Infrastructure Grant, it is critical for the department to conduct the condition assessment of all its infrastructure assets”, concluded MEC Matsemela.
For more information please contact:
Mr Elias Malindi