Durban — Teacher unions in KwaZulu-Natal have called on the provincial Education Department to use an R89 million incentive infrastructure grant to end pit toilets and fight crime in schools.
The National Department of Education and National Treasury allocated R89m to the provincial education department, which was announced by MEC Mbali Frazer on Tuesday. The money was an incentive for prudent budget management.
According to KZN Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi, the funds were allocated because of the department’s prudent use of public funds and good financial practice in managing the budget.
“For example, when we have a budget to fix 10 schools, we try to stretch it to at least 18 schools. That is how we qualified for the incentive,” said Mahlambi.
In welcoming the announcement of the allocation, the teacher unions urged the department to spend the grant wisely by prioritising poor schools.
SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said there were a lot of schools that had been damaged by storms, adding that the department should prioritise such schools.
The union also called for the total eradication of asbestos and pit toilets, saying some schools that still had asbestos and pit toilets must be removed since they were a health hazard. Caluza also called for fencing to mitigate crime in schools.
Weighing in on the allocation, National Teachers’ Union (Natu) president Sbusiso Malinga said his union appreciated the allocation but warned that it needed to be handled with care for it to reach where it is meant to.
Natu said it would appreciate it if the department would identify schools that needed it desperately, schools in deepest rural areas that are neglected with dilapidated infrastructure. It also called for competent service providers who must do the work and be closely monitored for quality, adding that no structure should be left half-done because of budget.
National Professional Teachers’ organisation of SA (Naptosa) provincial executive director Thirona Moodley called it a well-deserved financial incentive received by the province.
“The province has had huge infrastructure challenges and the extra funds will definitely result in much-needed improvements,” said Moodley.
Announcing the allocation, MEC Frazer said she was pleased to announce the outcome of the performance-based incentive system assessment of a final score of 98%, which qualified for an incentive allocation of R89 million.
Explaining the procedure, Frazer said the department needed to obtain a minimum score of 75% to qualify for an additional incentive allocation, which will be included in the 2024/25 baseline, adding that the incentive amount would form part of the education infrastructure grant and be confirmed by means of conditional grant final allocation letters.
“We welcome this much-needed incentive allocation of R89m to assist our infrastructure backlog projects,” said the MEC.
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