EC LOSES OUT ON MUD SCHOOLS: DAILY DISPATCH

THE national Treasury has taken R7.2-billion away from the threeyear national mud schools’ replacement programme because of slow spending, with the Eastern Cape the biggest loser, the DA has said.

“The vast proportion of this money – in the region of R6.2-billion – was earmarked for the eradication of mud schools in this province,” DA MPL Bobby Stevenson said.

“This is a severe blow to the province when it comes to eradicating mud-structure schools,” Stevenson said.

In last month’s medium-term budget statement, the Treasury said the slow pace of spending meant the money taken away would be reallocated over the medium term to “increase the education infrastructure grant to provinces and the community library grant”.

It would also support the construction of new universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.

“Over the medium term, the basic education function will focus on improving numeracy and literacy in the foundation phase, expanding enrolment in grade R and reducing school infrastructure backlog,” reads the statement.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said implementation sometimes lagged, citing an example of municipal infrastructure.

Last month, President Jacob Zuma opened two newly-built schools in the Transkei.

Mphathiswa Senior Primary School in Libode and Dakhile Junior Secondary School in Lusikisiki had been part of a group of 49 mud schools identified for rebuilding this financial year.

They were built through a service delivery agreement with the Development Bank of Southern Africa as part of the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative (Asidi).

The Asidi programme seeks to eradicate all mud schools in the country and to refurbish dilapidated and poorlyequipped schools.

Asidi’s plans for 2011-14 include the eradication and replacement of 496 mud schools, providing water and sanitation to 1 257 schools and electricity to 878 schools.

A total of R8.2-billion had been budgeted for Asidi for the period between 2011 and 2014.

Provincial education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani refused to comment on the matter and referred the Daily Dispatch to the national department.

Spokesman Panyaza Lesufi refused to comment saying they had not received a letter from the Treasury on the latest allocations.

However, he said about R420-million of the R700-million allocated for school infrastructure in the Eastern Cape in 2011-12 had been set aside to eradicate mud schools.

“The remaining R280-million is to fund basic services necessary in schools.”

Equal Education deputy general secretary Doron Isaacs blamed the national department’s management for the problem.

“This is an indictment of the department’s administration and political leadership,” Isaacs said.

He said the department did not have norms and standards in the building of schools.

“When you don’t have norms and standards how do you expect your provinces to spend funds allocated to eradicate mud schools?” Isaacs asked.

Stevenson claimed more than 400 mud structure schools should have been eradicated by the end of the 2013-14 financial year.

“This time it is the national Department of Basic Education that is failing to see this money is spent.”

He said the provincial department continued its slow under-spend of capital.

He called for competency testing for senior managers where there was repeated under performance.

“Performance agreements need to be signed at all levels and need to be enforced.

“[Premier Noxolo] Kiviet must show leadership and ensure those people responsible for continued under spending are fired.”