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Covid-19 exposes school infrastructure challenges in NC

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Infrastructure issues have not been the only reason why some schools had not opened in the Province, the Department of Education said. Challenges with municipal services was also a major factor.

File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

SCHOOL infrastructure is one of the major challenges faced by the Department of Education and Covid-19 has exposed many of the underlying problems in the Northern Cape in this regard.

This was stated by the head of the committee for Covid-19 in the department, Thomas van Staden, during a virtual media conference on Wednesday.

The aim of the conference was to relay the department’s readiness for the phasing-in of grades in the coming weeks.

According to Van Staden, 54 schools in the Province could not reopen on June 8, 2020, however, the problems at the majority of those schools have been addressed.

“Fifty-four schools could not reopen but subsequently 50 of those schools have since reopened. There were infrastructure problems experienced which prevented the opening of these schools. The schools that have not reopened are Saambou Primary School in the ZF Mgcawu District, Gata-Lwatlou Combined School in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District and Philipsvale Primary School and Willie Theron Primary School in the Pixley ka Seme District,” said Van Staden.

He added that some of the schools did not have infrastructure challenges but rather faced challenges with municipal services.

“Philipsvale is a fairly new school. The structure of the school is not the problem … there is a general problem experienced by residents regarding the provision of water. There are also other schools in the Province that have indicated that they have challenges with the municipal water supply.” 

Van Staden said the department was in communication with the SA Local Government Association (Salga)  to address the problems.

“There are 19 schools that have erratic water supply and four that have no water supply due to damages to water tanks and the drought experienced in some areas. All these schools are being attended to in order to ensure compliance for reopening. Nineteen schools were also reported to have challenges with sanitation and those challenges are currently being addressed. In the fight against Covid-19, the availability of water is non-negotiable,” he said.

Van Staden added that vandalism was also one of the challenges that was hampering the work being done by the department.

“One hundred and five schools have been vandalised, of which repair work at 32 schools has been completed. Repair work at 73 schools is in progress. The state of schools is a reflection of society. There schools have been vandalised more than once during the lockdown and that is worrying,” he said.