The DA welcomes the additional allocation as well as the prioritisation to the Eastern Cape of R520 million out of R700 million for educational infrastructure in the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill tabled last week in the National Assembly. However, with effectively four working months left to the end of the financial year, the department will have to step up a gear and burn the midnight oil if it is going to successfully spend this money.
Its track record has been dismal to date. Last year it only spent 33% of its capital budget and in the first quarter of this year had only spent 8.5% of its capital budget. Last year it only managed to build three out of 17 schools. The Eastern Cape has thousands of schools that lack water, electricity and decent sanitation.
As the Departments of Education and of Public Works lack the capacity to spend, this project should be outsourced to an outside agency with the necessary controls and oversight.
Infighting, turf wars and general lack of capacity are destroying education in the Eastern Cape. This additional funding cannot be trapped in this poisonous spider’s web that continues to cripple the department.
The DA will strive to ensure that those responsible for the expenditure are held accountable so that the hopes of millions of learners to escape the poverty trap and better themselves can be realised.
In the 2011 Division of Revenue Act, R700 million in the schools infrastructure backlogs grant was unallocated. The National Department of Basic Education has now finalised the distribution to the nine provinces, hence the additional allocation of R520 million to the Eastern Cape. The grant is for the eradication of poor school infrastructure and provision of water, sanitation and electricity to schools.