October 23, 2018

Basic Education chasing pot at the end of the rainbow

Parliament’s questions to the Minister of Basic Education reveal that the Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure launched in 2013 to improve educational infrastructure will have to be deferred by another five to ten years beyond 2030.

Furthermore, the President’s determination to sort out the disastrous sanitation situation in schools has added to the pressure that the department is under to address the infrastructure backlogs. Budget cuts have had “a disastrous impact on multi-year project commitments and the ability to meet the current demands and targets,” was one of the Minister’s replies, and she added “additional funding is required”. This follows the R7.2 billion cut in the 2018-19 school infrastructure budget.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s instruction that sanitation projects in schools be speedily addressed has had the department frantically looking for supplementary funds. It has required the sector to reprioritise budgets and programmes to meet this call.

Provinces have had to reprioritise budgets to accommodate additional projects in the current and subsequent financial year.

Currently 2,549 sanitation projects are being implemented. Of these, 672 projects are at the planning and tender stage, 165 projects are between 1% and 25% implemented, 151 projects are between 26% and 50% of implementation, 160 projects are between 51% and 75% of implementation, 261 projects are between 76% and 99% of implementation and 1,140 projects are near completion.

Those under implementation in the current financial year are being budgeted for through provincial programmes and the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI). The Department of Basic Education is keeping track to ensure that they are carried out expeditiously and completed in the current financial year.

Provinces have had to reprioritise budgets to accommodate additional projects in the current and subsequent financial year and in its next phase will be seeking partnerships with the private sector. Pledges made by companies at a presidential breakfast are being concluded to get the projects off the ground as quickly as possible.

Additional funding will be solicited from the fiscus to address additional projects, the Minister said in reply to a written question. “It is envisaged that, depending on the availability of funding, these projects should be concluded within the next eighteen months.”

She made the point that when the Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure were promulgated in November 2013, “no additional allocations were made to address these and ensure that all schools reach the desired functionality”. Allocated budgets are being used for these as well as other pressing needs like maintenance, new schools and additional classrooms, refurbishment of existing infrastructure, addressing eradication of asbestos and partially inappropriate structures, and fixing storm-damaged structures and those damaged during service delivery protests.

Moira Levy

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  • Author: Moira Levy
Last modified on Monday, 17 September 2018 21:50

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