Our pupils deserve better

FILE PICTURE: Minister of Basic Education and ANC Women's League president Angie Motshekga. Picture: Christine Vermooten

FILE PICTURE: Minister of Basic Education and ANC Women's League president Angie Motshekga. Picture: Christine Vermooten

In October 2012, President Jacob Zuma handed over the first of 49 new schools government had built through the Accelerated School Infrastructure.

With that initiative, the government signalled its broadest step yet towards the eradication of mud schools in South Africa. Now less than three years later, we are preparing to hand over the 100th school in Kroonstad in the Free State as part of the Asidi programme, which seeks to provide conducive teaching and learning conditions for our teachers and learners.

Asidi is probably the most ambitious programme that promises to change the face of school infrastructure in South Africa. It’s also the first programme of its kind to bring together government and private financial institutions in a deal that aims to eradicate mud schools and inappropriate structures by the end of this year. We are on course to achieve that milestone.

When we launched the Asidi a few years ago, we told South Africans we will not rest until we have created an enabling environment to promote a culture of learning and until we have. improved the quality of our education system. Education is important, as it is the doorwayto unlocking the chains of poverty and setting the economy on a path to prosperity.

We are handing over Dorrington Matsepe Primary School later this month as part of the R8.2 billion Asidi programme. We have named the 100th school after Matsepe, the father of the late minister Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri. It was established in 1992 and he started with 500 pupils and 15 educators. Currently, it has 1 100 pupils. It is built next to Troubou township. Most pupils at the school are orphans, but despite these challenges I am told the school is performing well in the annual national assessments (ANA) and that last year, it achieved a bronze in mathematics (60-69%) and became one of the 50 top schools in the province.

These are the kind of success stories I feel should be told, and it is our belief the refurbishment of this school will further 
improve its performance. It is all about our children, as the future belongs to them. It is up to us to do our best to ensure we create an enabling environment for them to excel. In doing this, the country is moving towards shaping future leaders and 
creating a skilled workforce that will contribute to economic growth.

In the Eastern Cape alone some 52 schools have been handed over thus far and a total of 80 now completed to replace mud schools. In the Western Cape, we have 25 schools (11 already handed over) that are part of Asidi, but if we factor in schools the provincial department will also build as part of its own contribution, a total of 33 schools will be built. 

Ten other schools will be built in the Free State and a handful in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. Our aim is not just to hand over schools, but to provide the added touch of quality infrastructure. Our ultimate goal is to have all schools in South Africa as whole schools – where a child is able to develop academically, socially and physically in interactive classrooms equipped with state-of-the-art computers, laboratories and dedicated teachers. 

The biggest challenge is maintenance. We appeal to communities to protect these facilities for the benefit of future generations.

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