Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: GCIS
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: GCIS

The Eastern Cape is the worst-affected province in terms of the number of schools built using inappropriate material.

An estimated R11.3bn is required to eradicate the backlog throughout SA.

In reply to a question from the EFF in Parliament, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga singled out the Eastern Cape for lagging behind in providing suitable infrastructure. The province also has the most schools without proper sanitation, while a large number of schools remain without access to electricity.

Substandard infrastructure and lack of basic services are seen as barriers to quality education. The Eastern Cape has long been identified as one of the worst-performing provinces in education and this has partly been blamed on poor infrastructure and the lack of qualified teachers.

Motshekga said the province had 25 schools without proper sanitation, while every other province had managed to tackle this issue.

The minister said some 205 schools built using inappropriate material in the Eastern Cape still remained. Gauteng had 26 such schools, while the Free State had 15, the Northern Cape 24, and KwaZulu-Natal three.

Motshekga’s efforts to address the sanitation backlogs were at varying stages of implementation, she said.

"All schools have been provided with some form of electricity, either through grid connection, solar, generator or other means of electricity provision. "The sector is, however, continuously affected by instances of theft and vandalism of solar panels and cables, which renders schools previously provided … without service."

There were 273 schools across the country built entirely of inappropriate materials.

In 2013, following intense lobbying by Equal Education, the Department of Basic Education published the regulations relating to minimum uniform norms and standards for public schools infrastructure. Motshekga said among the reasons for delays and therefore the failure to comply with the targets set in the norms and standards were delays in procurement, rationalisation of schools, capacity, land issues and funding.

Equal Education said on Thursday it had repeatedly expressed concern about the continuing infrastructure crisis in the Eastern Cape.

"Both the provincial and national education departments have underspent their infrastructure budgets in the Eastern Cape." In 2017, the national department received R1.57bn from Treasury to "build schools in the Eastern Cape.... However, it underspent that budget by R415m", Equal Education said.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za