Public Service Commission zooms in on maintenance at Cape schools
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Cape Town - Education standing committee chairperson in the legislature Lorraine Botha said she was concerned by the absence of the Public Service Commission (PSC) investigations at other provincial departments.
Botha said that begs the question of whether political favours were taken into account. But, more than that, the absence of PSC involvement elsewhere means they could not fully develop best practice, and take into account the specific needs of provinces.
“For example, in 2019 it was revealed that, by September that year, only 40.1% of the overall infrastructure budgets were spent and many provinces were underspending. The PSC found that in South Africa, as a whole, 70 schools are in need of emergency repairs,” said Botha.
This, after the committee met for its scheduled meeting on Tuesday, to look at the PSC reports on infrastructure maintenance and repairs in schools, as well as reports on investigations against fraud, malfeasance, and corruption, in schools.
During the presentation, PSC commissioner Leonardo Goosen said there were a number of incidents in the news, where a lack of routine maintenance or poor response to emergency requests has resulted in either injury or loss of life.
Goosen said, in that light, the PSC provincial commissioner initiated a project to assess the Western Cape Education Department (WCED’s) response to emergency repairs at schools.
He said, according to their findings, not all principals were familiar with the WCED’s standard operating procedures (SOP) for emergency maintenance in schools.
“The information gained from respondents show that 20 out of 58 principals were not familiar with the SOP,” said Goosen.
He said almost half of the sampled principals indicated that some of the emergency repairs requested were as a result of maintenance not being done in the first place.
“The majority of approved requests (54.1%) result in the contractor starting the repair work within within months of approval. This excludes ‘making safe’ when this is required. A third of approved requests are only implemented by the fourth month, or thereafter, according to the survey,” said Goosen.
ANC provincial spokesperson on education Khalid Sayed commended Goosen for maintaining a zero-tolerance stance against corruption, which resulted in him insisting on a review of a whitewashed investigation report by the WCED, which sought to mask irregular activity at the school.