PORT ELIZABETH - At least 26 Eastern Cape schools have been hit by a tornado, the provincial department of education said on Thursday.
The vicious tornado ripped opened roofs, demolished buildings and caused severe damage to school infrastructure. Most of the affected schools are in the OR Tambo Coastal education district.
Eastern Cape education MEC Mlungisi Mvoko, speaking at a media briefing on the province's readiness for the 2019 academic year, said a team from the infrastructure section of the department has been sent to assess the extent of damage in all the affected schools.
He said the damage to infrastructure was a blow to the province which is lagging behind when it came to infrastructure development.
"We are sitting at an infrastructure backlog of R70.1 billion and the amount we allocate each year is nowhere closer," said Mvoko.
He said the work to repair the schools affected by the tornado would be carried out during the festive season.
On school nutrition, Mvoko said the provincial education department would be ready to deliver from the first day of the school term next year.
"The department will feed 1.6 million learners in 5,164 schools from the first day of the 2019 academic year in Quintiles one to three and identified special schools," said Mvoko.
In addition, the department said it was ready to deal with the late registration of pupils by establishing a call centre to deal with a last-minute influx of learners who are seeking to be placed to various schools in the province.
The call centre will be operational when the school term commences.
The department said it will strengthen its scholar transport programme to ensure that learners who need to be transported to attend schools benefit.
Mvoko said the department has cut the red-tape to speed up the process of appointing educators.
"Schools must speed up the appointment of teachers to ensure that vacancies are filled in time," he said.
African News Agency (ANA)