News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Saturday February 16th 2019

R12-billion needed for Western Cape schools backlog

Peter Luhanga

The Western Cape Education Department is short of 65 schools, but will only be able to build 25 new schools up until 2012, according to information provided by the department.

This forms part of what new provincial education MEC Donald Grant described this week as a “massive backlog” that would require R12-billion to plug – money the department did not have.

Grant, speaking at an event to mark Youth Day at Sophakama Primary School in Du Noon near Cape Town, said there were many schools that were old and had received insufficient repairs and maintenance, contributing to the backlog.

He said his department would have “to do more with less” and was looking at “creative means” to finance the backlog.

This included making state land available for schools to reduce development costs and getting the private sector to fund and build new schools.

“We have to look at ways to do things differently,” said Grant.

Apart from the challenge of building new schools, his department also had to find qualified teachers to give quality education to learners.

Providing further details following Grant’s comments, education department spokesperson Bronagh Casey said the department’s budget available under the Medium Term Expenditure Framework for the 2009/10 – 2011/12 period was R1,3 billion.

The department currently had 11 schools in construction and a further 14 schools were in different planning stages. She said the WCED would build 25 new schools over the MTEF period.

Breaking the backlog down, Casey qualified Grant’s comments by saying the backlog was between R8-12-billion.
She said there was a backlog of 65 schools in terms of classrooms needed, but this could change as new areas were developed.

The cost of these schools translated into R2.3 billion.
The bulk of the cost, however, came from the need to replace 217 schools built in the previous dispensation from pre-fabricated material, which needed to be replaced with permanent brick and mortar buildings.

Replacing 120 of these schools at an average cost of R35-million a school would cost R4,2-billion.

While these schools were being replaced it would cost the department R840-million to fund mobile units.

Apart from the schools, there was a need for 500 school halls in the Western Cape. With the current cost of a school hall pegged at R4-million, this amounted to a cost of R 2-billion.

University of Cape Town (UCT) School of Education senior lecturer Dr David Gilmour said government needed to make a choice on whether to invest in the future now or spend money elsewhere. “These are hard choices,” he said, “Kids in overcrowded and understaffed classrooms are bound to fail.”

Gilmour said government needed to look at its population. If it was true that there was a large influx of people seeking education in the Western Cape then provincial allocations needed to be adjusted accordingly.

And Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) senior research specialist on the education, science and skills programme, Dr Cas Prinsloo, said other factors other than the building of schools needed to be considered when dealing with the quality of education.

Decent housing, roads and sanitation all contributed to the quality of education. — West Cape News

Tags: Education

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2 Responses to “R12-billion needed for Western Cape schools backlog”

  1. Anette Van Der Westhuizen says:

    There is a definite need for the new schools! A suggestion is that while there is not enough funding for all the 65 schools to be built, why don’t the small schools not merge? There is too many small schools and will make the administrating so much easier.

  2. johan says:

    There are so many steel furniture laying at schools that can be repaired and this issue was taken up with the WCED, but according to them the schools have a budget to repair – after contacting a lot of schools,it appears that they are not interested in repairs , but only WANTS new furniture – now wat nou ?

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