Speech by Eastern Cape Education MEC M Qwase on infrastructure workshop
1 Oct 2009
“We are here to discuss a most pressing matter, here in the province, and indeed the whole country, infrastructure provisioning. The west of the province is mostly blighted by dilapidated prefabricated and wood structured schools, whist the east especially the former Transkei faces the scourge of mud and unsafe structures.
Similarly, former model C schools are not receiving adequate allocation for maintenance of their school buildings. Inversely, some schools in the rural areas are not utilising their dedicated infrastructure rehabilitation budgets.
We are also faced with the absence of adequate accommodation/staff cottages that would enable educators to stay close to their schools in the rural areas.
We must ensure that we create an enabling environment for proper learning and teaching to take place.
We must also disabuse our communities of the obsession with brick and mortar type schools, as there are other alternatives that can be utilised in responding urgently to emergencies. Impatience is at an all time low in our communities, the department is faced with an escalation of parents’ delegations to head office. General sentiments of public suggest that govt is not properly monitoring budgeted projects. Work inspections are not vigorously undertaken, and more often than not, are not taken seriously by the delegated officials.
In terms of the medium term expenditure framework:
* We must take into consideration medium to long term maintenance plan for our schools
* All schools must be fenced
* Provision of resource centre
* Improve classroom/learner ratio.
We also need to also establish migration patterns as it relates to space utilisation. The new infrastructure caps and limits decided on by Council for Education (CEM) have strong infrastructure implications, the ramifications of that decision needs to taken into consideration. We must also reflect on the issues of capacity where Department of Public Works is concerned; similarly we need to look at the issues of cost benefit. Finally, we should also seriously examine coordination of donor projects.
It is a fact that for a rural province like ours, there are other competing needs that are further complicating the provision of infrastructure. That’s why national government has opted to prioritise issues critical for economic and social development.
Our discussion should concentrate on what this department will do to ensure that this promise becomes a reality. This workshop must also define what is a backlog? In Port Elizabeth five schools stand empty, learners have migrated to former model C schools; for instance, in Booysen Park 70 percent of learners are African, even though the area is a formerly coloured area.
The amount projected in last year’s rapid assessment as required to completely eradicate our backlog was about R28 billion; the budget allocated last year ended up amounting R977 billion, down from the initial R1050 billion; this year’s allocation has also come down from projected R1.2 billion to R980 million. Therefore, how then do we meet the challenge of the required R28 billion Council for Education (CEM) MECs took the decision to set up a task team focusing on rural infrastructure, comprised of MECs from Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpompo; hopefully that would assist in developing a cogent argument to be presented to national government; the key argument is that government must adopt the same approach to this urgent need as taken in the building of 2010 stadiums.
I have thus called for this workshop so that there can be proper planning and projections for all projects. This year alone over 75 school have been affected by one form of disaster or another. This has left the Department in a serious bind as we lack requisite resources to deal with all of them immediately. This is an example of poor planning.
How do we adequately deal with emergencies in a manner that it indeed becomes an emergency, and not become stuck in the bureaucracy of the department?
Issued by: Department of Education, Eastern Cape Provincial Government
1 October 2009
Source: Department of Education, Eastern Cape Provincial Government
Issued by: Eastern Cape Provincial Government
1 Oct 2009
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