R2.3bn plan for schools revamp

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R2.3bn for schools INLSA Provincial education head Penny Vinjevold and Education MEC Donald Grant announce details of the school infrastructure plan. Picture: Thomas Holder

Cape Town -

More money is to be pumped into maintenance work - such as repairs to roofs and ceilings and painting - at the province’s schools over the next three financial years.

This was announced at a press conference on Tuesday at which Education MEC Donald Grant and provincial education head Penny Vinjevold revealed details of a three-year infrastructure plan for schools.

Over the three-year period the Western Cape Education Department plans to:

- Have maintenance work done at 420 schools.

- Build 26 new schools - 11 of them secondary, 13 primary and two special needs schools.

- Replace 46 so-called plankieskole (schools built with inappropriate materials).

- Build 124 Grade R classrooms.

- Replace classrooms built with inappropriate materials at five schools.

“Tackling the infrastructure backlog is a daunting task,” Grant said.

“However, the analysis undertaken in formulating this plan suggests that it is feasible to address the challenge over time.”

The department has allocated R771 million for the plan for the 2013/14 financial year, R780m for 2014/15 and R823m for 2015/16.

Grant said the demand for new education infrastructure, particularly in some areas, was growing because the school population in the province was increasing year by year through natural growth and migration.

This year, about 11 000 more pupils than last year were enrolled at schools in the province.

It was envisaged that expenditure on maintenance would increase from 17 percent of the infrastructure budget to 40 percent.

Vinjevold said a priority list of maintenance needs had been compiled. It included repairs to or the replacement of roofs, sewerage and ablution facilities, ceilings, perimeter fencing, and paintwork.

The infrastructure plan would come into force once the three-year plan, which started in 2010, ended in April.

The first plan included the building of 25 new schools, 20 replacement schools, additional classrooms and mobile units.

Grant said the department was expecting to exceed the targets set in 2010.

David Millar, provincial chairman of the National Professional Teachers Association of SA (Naptosa), said the department had to be commended for making maintenance a priority.

He said three years was a short-term plan. “We would like to know if an audit has been done of the maintenance requirements. It would be good to see what the backlog is.” - Cape Argus

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