R125m FOR DAMAGED SCHOOLS: THE HERALD

PUPILS at several Eastern Cape schools that were severely damaged by storms last year may return to renovated classrooms next year after the Education Department received a multimillion-rand cash injection last week to fix them.

Renovations to more than 60 schools in rural Transkei will begin later this month after the department received R125-million from the national Treasury last week.

About 114 schools were damaged last year. The department has fixed only 52 so far.

Now the department – which has no dedicated funding for repairs at schools ravaged by storms annually – aims to take care of the remaining 62 dilapidated schools this month.

Departmental spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said the funds would be set aside for repairs to the schools.

“The national Treasury last week provided R125-million in respect of the natural disasters that blight our schools annually during the rainy season,” he said.

“We are allocating these funds to our schools disaster project to start in the next few weeks.”

But DA education spokesman Edmund van Vuuren MPL was sceptical, saying the department should allocate a portion of its budget to fix storm-damaged schools.

“Tornados and heavy storms are an annual phenomenon from November to February in Transkei. Policies and procedures are needed to manage this yearly occurrence,” he said.

“The department must set up a task team to monitor these natural disasters.

“An amount should be ring-fenced within a disaster management system allocated in the department, for storm-damaged schools.”

In portfolio committee meetings, the department reportedly blamed the failure to revamp damaged school on its chronic lack of funds, despite having returned about R443-million of the Infrastructure Conditional Grant that was not spent.

Pulumani said further details would be known in a fortnight’s time.