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by Khume Ramulifho MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education
The Democratic Alliance is very concerned that several Gauteng schoolchildren are still being taught in asbestos classrooms in the province as the Department of Education failed to exercise its responsibility to conduct crucial maintenance to school buildings.
The Gauteng Department of Education had underspent their budget by a whopping R1.6 billion for the 2020/21 financial year, money that could have been used to eradicate asbestos classrooms and conduct crucial maintenance to dilapidated schools.
This information was revealed in the department’s fourth quarter report for the said financial year.
The department received an initial allocation of R52.9 billion. In terms of year-to-date expenditure, the department has spent R51.2 billion. This leaves the department with an under expenditure of R1.6 billion during the financial period.
The constant failure by the department to spend its full budget has a consequential impact on delivering quality education to children.
Most of the school infrastructure is old and dilapidated, and in dire need of proper regular maintenance, yet the department left billions of rands unspent.
This clearly indicates a lack of proper planning by the department as they are aware of the infrastructure challenges facing our schools. This money could have been used in eradicating asbestos schools, building more schools where there are new housing developments, particularly in Johannesburg North, Johannesburg South, Ekurhuleni, and Tshwane to avoid overcrowding in classrooms.
The environment in which both learners and teachers are exposed to on a daily basis in many of the schools across the province is not conducive for learning and teaching which greatly concerns the DA. Teachers and learners deserve a safe and comfortable environment in which to work and learn.
The DA will continue to exert pressure on the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi to reprioritise the department’s expenditure plans to ensure proper budget allocation, focusing on school infrastructure by building more schools and classrooms, eradicating asbestos schools, and providing regular, proper maintenance.
The DA believes that under expenditure on education and related infrastructure is a dereliction of duty and fails our children and future, given the very high demand for quality education in our province and is concerned about the social and economic impacts it has when our children do not receive proper education in properly built and maintained schools.