New School Building Programme Announced
Addressing the backlogs in infrastructure is a top priority for the Education administration.
It has become widely apparent that there is an urgent need to review our approach to infrastructure development in the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).
There is a legacy of underinvestment in a number of areas throughout this province, and a decline in the quality of infrastructure at many of our schools. Pressure posed by inward migration and growth points has also highlighted the need to readdress our infrastructure priorities. Last year, Minister Grant commissioned a baseline audit of all the schools in the province to ascertain where our immediate infrastructure interventions should be targeted.
The current backlog stands at approximately twenty eigth (28) new schools. Therefore, given that our current budget for infrastructure and maintenance is only R389 million, this administration has had to develop a bold new plan to address these backlogs.
In terms of new schools, as Premier Zille announced last Friday, tenders will soon be advertised to build twelve (12) new schools in the province starting in 2011. These twelve (12) new schools are in addition to the existing building programme underway. Four (4) new schools are currently under construction in the province and an additional six schools are out on tender. Seven (7) schools across the province were completed last year.
This innovative and ambitious plan is a first in South Africa. It is also a result of a ground-breaking agreement with the Department of Public Works and the Provincial Treasury where an agreement has been reached to allocate R1 billion over the current Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period to finance our plan. In addition, a consultation process on how to design and build cost effective, environmentally-friendly and sustainable schools has been undertaken.
The decision to put twelve (12) schools out on one tender:
- reduces building and procurement costs
- dramatically decreases the professional fees for each specific school
- speeds up delivery
- consolidates accountability.
The WCED is currently conducting an objective assessment of schools to determine pressure areas throughout the province.
These assessments are based on a number of objective criteria such as:
- migration patterns in the province
- new housing developments and infrastructure
- funding and budgets
- existing and planned transport
- leased property and hostel accommodation
Additional Classrooms at Existing Schools
In order to address the demands for increased admissions at some of our successful schools, the WCED will build approximately 200 new classrooms at 50 schools in the metropolitan area of Cape Town.
Funding will be made available to each school to build four (4) additional classrooms. This process will be closely monitored and audited. Feedback from our schools has been positive in this regard, and once completed, approximately three thousand (3 000) children will gain access to some of our successful schools with world class tuition.
This is an excellent example of a partnership between the department and our schools to fulfill our mutual objectives of giving a safe and secure learning environment for all our learners. It will also offset some of the need to build new schools.
The Use of Mobile Classrooms
The issue of overcrowding at some of our province's schools is a major concern of ours. An effective and immediate approach to alleviate overcrowding at our schools is to install mobile classrooms, as is currently underway at Oranjekloof Primary and Citrusdal Secondary. Our audit reveals that there is a need to prioritise the allocation of one hundred and Twenty six (126) additional mobile classrooms at our schools.
A project management unit has been appointed to manage the ordering and provision of these classrooms. We are confident that these units will be delivered by the end of the second term.
As is evident above, the department's infrastructure plan provides for a number of short and long term interventions. Once successfully implemented, it will help alleviate school overcrowding and improve the overall state of our school infrastructure across the province. It is an exciting and bold plan, but we believe it can be achieved.
Minister of Education, Donald Grant
Cell: 072 724 1422
Tel: 021 467 2377