Edu Dept ‘slow’ in eradicating mud schools

Children stand against the mud hut classroom at Mwezeni Junior Secondary School in Eastern Cape on June 5, 2012. Pupils are taught in ramschackle mud huts. (Photo by Gallo Images / The Times / Shelley Christians)

The National Department of Basic Education has underspent the School Infrastructure Backlog grant to eradicate mud schools, a report released by the South African Human Rights Commission revealed on Thursday.

The Citizen published an article three months ago that despite R2.3 billion having been made available for the construction of new schools in the 2012/13 financial year, less than 100 of the 510 target has been built.

The report, by Carmen Abdoll and Conrad Barberton, follows a study commissioned by the Centre for Child Law to track school infrastructure spending and delivery.

It stated that 2011/2012 spending was a little over 10% and only at 23% in 2012/2013. It was also pointed out was that the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative’s target for the number of schools to be built in 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 was 49.

Only 10 had been completed by the end of the first year.

The report predicted that if the education department continued at the same delivery rate, “a realistic time frame for the eradication of schools with inappropriate structures is probably 2023/24”.

Director of the Centre for Child Law and Unesco chairperson, Prof Ann Skelton, said: “This study shows the importance of monitoring and evaluating progress against court orders and out of court settlements, to ensure that the right to a basic education is made real.”

A court settlement was reached with government in 2011 that R8.2 billion would be spent over three years to eradicate mud schools.

The report started that progress has been slow and many inappropriate structures are still learning places for thousands of learners.

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