Despite the best intentions of the department of education, who claim that adequate water and sanitation in schools in the province will be provided within a seven-year timeframe, an entire generation of pupils will remain subjected to a poor learning environment.
It was recently revealed in question I asked the MEC for Education, Mandla Makupula, that 765 schools across 23 education districts in the province do not have access to adequate water and sanitation facilities. This translates to a requirement of 6 608 toilet units, at a cost of R534 million which has been budgeted for over a period from 2015/16 to 2024/25.
These time frames and good intentions are all good and well, how will the department fund it all?
I receive daily queries from my office from teachers, temporary teachers, schools and auxiliary staff in programmes such as Adult Education and Training (AET) and the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) who have not been paid by the department, in many cases dating back years, rather than months.
The bottom line is that the department suffers from a top-heavy, bloated administration that is consuming too much of the budget-cake instead of providing a healthy teaching environment. Education in the Eastern Cape simply cannot be put back on track if the budget is not utilised more efficiently.
I am hoping that the soon-to-be-released final report of the Human Rights Commission into school sanitation in the province following my complaint on behalf of the DA will serve as additional motivation for the department to get its act together.
Unfortunately, as we saw during the past year with schools owed money for School Governing Body teacher-posts, the department will only really act once it is compelled by the High Court to do so. And then, it seems, it will be another case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.