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School infrastructure backlogs in KwaZulu-Natal remain huge concern for committee


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School infrastructure backlogs in KwaZulu-Natal remain huge concern for committee

Learners in class lacking basic infrastructure
Photo by Reuters

2nd February 2023


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The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education is concerned about the persistent infrastructure challenges facing some schools in KwaZulu-Natal that are having a negative impact on the providing quality teaching and learning. The committee concluded the third day of its week-long oversight programme in the province and has resolved to raise these concerns in its meeting with the MEC today.
“While we are cognisant of the infrastructure backlog and the unavailability of enough financial resources to remedy the deficiency, the committee has urged for more resources to be directed at remedying the problem. It is unfathomable that some learners are still utilising mud structures that were built by communities many years ago to make available learning environments. It is even more worrying that this affects mostly the poor in rural areas,” said Ms Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, the Chairperson of the committee.
The committee is also concerned that some of the recommendations it made during a visit to the Harry Gwala Educational District during its first visit in 2021 have not been carried through. This points to dereliction of duty on the part of Provincial Department of Education officials. As a result, the committee has recommended that the department investigates this matter and carries out consequence management in cases where officials failed to do their work.
The availability of water and sanitation remains a challenge, with some schools still using pit latrines that pose a danger, especially for young leaners. The committee has called for the department to provide an update on the roll-out of the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) programme to enable the committee to assess impact and provide solutions to impediments.
Meanwhile the committee urged the department to strengthen its support to schools in relation to subject advisors to ensure that improvements are made in the delivery of learning areas. “The progressive improvement of the delivery of learning areas will strengthen learning and increase throughput of the system in general,” Ms Mbinqo-Gigaba emphasised.
Despite these challenges, the committee is satisfied that generally the system is ready to deliver the 2023 academic year. Also, the committee is cognisant that some of the challenges have an historic context and resolutions will require substantial investment, which must be rolled out incrementally.     
The committee will today conclude its visit to the province by visiting two schools in the morning and holding an extensive engagement with the Education MEC together with the senior management team. “What is important to us is for the system to provide a safe and adequate space that will ensure an environment that fosters teaching and learning,” Ms Mbinqo-Gigaba concluded.



Issued by The Chairperson of The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba




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