Schools knocked hard: no more bricks in the wall for KZN
Cash meant for building new schools and fixing those damaged in lockdown shifts to Covid-19 readiness
The KwaZulu-Natal education department will have to halt all plans to build and renovate schools and redirect funds to prepare for the reopening of schools under Covid-19.
“We don’t have money and we just have to be clear about that. There is no indication of further allocation either from the provincial treasury or from the national government. I am sure you would have seen that in the stimulus package that the president announced we did not get any allocation as the sector. We will obviously continue to beg for more money from both the provincial and national Treasury,” said education MEC Kwazi Mshengu.
Mshengu was speaking at Mzuvele High School in KwaMashu, north of Durban, on Wednesday after a classroom was set on fire at the weekend. He said 225 schools had been damaged since the start of the lockdown on March 26 and that only nine people had been arrested.
A media briefing by basic education minister Angie Motshekga was scheduled for Thursday.
According to a parliamentary portfolio briefing and presentation on Wednesday morning, schools are expected to reopen in phases from next month.
The presentation revealed that the province, which has the most schools in the country, also has the largest number, more than 1,000, of schools that need emergency water assistance. A total of 3,475 schools in the country will require emergency water assistance.
We don’t have money and we just have to be clear about that. There is no indication of further allocation either from the provincial treasury or from the national government.Kwazi Mshengu, KZN education MEC
“ In the meantime we will have to make do with what we have. We will have to reallocate from the baseline. It means that there are schools that we had hoped to build during this financial year which we are not going to build. There are schools that we needed to renovate that we are not going to renovate. There are ICT facilities we need to deploy in various parts of our schools in the province. We are not going to be able to do that now because we must take all that money and re-channel it into the fight against Covid so that our learners are safe,” said Mshengu.
When asked about his department’s specific plans once schools open, he said: “The proposed phase-in approach is in line with the attempt to keep in line with social distancing. Obviously there are other schools where we will have to procure addition mobile classes to make sure that we comply with social distancing, but there is a comprehensive package of all safety measures that we will need to implement before we reopen our schools.
The province was “preparing septic water tanks to assist those schools that don’t have running water”, and addressing “the issue of mobile ablution facilities and reusable makes for our learners and teachers” as well as “the issue of sanitising our schools”.