EC EDUCATION INFRASTRUCTURE BUDGET SLASHED AGAIN

Of the R1.3 billion that was allocated for infrastructure to the Department of Education in the Eastern Cape, only R492 million will be available for new projects in the current financial year. This shocking revelation was made during a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Education in Bhisho this week.

This budget, which had been set aside for the building of new schools, repairs and refurbishments and the eradication of mud structures has been depleted by R808 million. The amount of R808 million will be used to pay for commitments to infrastructure in the last financial year, as well as for accruals resulting from the non-payment of contractors in the 2009/10 financial year.

The cut in the infrastructure budget will have a huge effect in providing much needed schools to our communities. The eradication of mud structures will remain a pipe dream. Schools like Booysens Park Secondary in Port Elizabeth are still not sure whether their school will be repaired, although promises were made that work on the school will start towards the end of October of this financial year.

This department is in direct opposition to the Constitution by denying our learners access to education by not providing conducive conditions for teaching and learning to take place.

The Democratic Alliance firmly believes that education is the foundation for opportunities and children should not be denied these opportunities because of the circumstances of their birth.

This state of affairs seems all too much like a repeat of last year, when all infrastructure activities in schools in the Eastern Cape had come to a halt due to a lack of funds.

This state of affairs will have a major impact on the outcomes of education in the Eastern Cape and the dismal year-end results in the province will continue because of the horrendous conditions under which our learners must prepare for the final examinations.

The image displayed by the department in this province impacts negatively on economic development and economic decisions: major investors are not interested in doing business with a place that is backward and under-developed.

The current situation means that the backlogs that this province has been facing for the past 15 years will continue. According to the annual report of the Eastern Cape Department of Education for 2007/08, of the 5 885 public ordinary schools in the province, 20% did not have electricity, 19% did not have water and 9% did not have access the sanitation. A total of 1 461 schools were still built of clay or still had to accommodate learners in some kind of mud structure.

The Democratic Alliance is making an urgent appeal is made the MEC and HOD for Education to arrange a meeting with Treasury and ensure necessary funding.

Many schools still lack the facilities and resources that make effective teaching easier.

The DA believes a core minimum of resources should be a given for each school:

 A safe and secure environment;

 A satisfactory classroom;

 Electricity;

 Running water;

 Access to a flush toilet;

 A telephone;

 Access to sports facilities; and

 Enough teachers.

For further information, please contact Edmund van Vuuren, MPL on 072 184 7840