The Eastern Cape education department is doing such a poor job supervising the implementing agencies appointed to build schools, that only seven were constructed in the year to end-March, according to a report released on Wednesday by the advocacy group Equal Education. Despite a promise made by former president Thabo Mbeki in 2004 to put an end to children learning under trees or in dangerous buildings, progress towards this goal has been painfully slow. Nowhere is this more so than in the Eastern Cape, which remains home to more schools built with illegal materials, such as mud or asbestos, than rest of the provinces put together — 471 out of a total of 600. Many children and teachers also have to contend with schools that lack electricity or decent sanitation. The department has contracted a series of implementing agencies to deliver school infrastructure in an effort to overcome its own lack of capacity, as well as the limitations of the provincial department of public works. Ho...

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