The Northern Cape MEC for Education, Zolile Monakali, has vowed that all asbestos school structures will be a thing of the past by 2030.
THE NORTHERN Cape MEC for Education, Zolile Monakali, has vowed that all asbestos school structures will be a thing of the past by 2030.
Monakali was addressing residents in Upington during a sod-turning ceremony for the new Franciscus Intermediate School.
The construction of the new school will cost more than R100 million and it will be equipped with three double early childhood development centres, 35 classrooms, two science laboratories, two computer centres, one media centre, sports facilities and a school hall.
Monakali said the old asbestos building will be demolished and pupils in the area will enjoy a new, modern structure.
“This old school is said to be more than 150 years old. We cannot have old buildings, such as these asbestos structures that will harm the health of our children, educators and support staff. Hence we saw it fit to build a structure which will not be hazardous to the health of our learners.”
He added that the new construction will not only benefit pupils and teachers but also the entire community.
“This construction will also afford jobs and temporary employment to many households in this area. We will be employing local people during the construction process.”
Monakali, however, warned residents not to hamper or delay the construction process.
“We have noticed this trend that our community members disrupt some construction processes by staging protests. The community makes all kinds of demands on the contractor by stating that the process will not commence unless certain demands are met. We cannot afford that projects be brought to a standstill because some people’s individual needs are not met. In some cases, one finds that some people are greedy and only want certain opportunities for themselves.
“If you are a contractor, get your paperwork in order. Do not wait until the construction commences, then you only want to force the department to give you an opportunity to showcase your abilities. There will not be thousands of job opportunities, but there will be about 100 job opportunities for local people. Give each other the chance to get some employment.”
The MEC said the project should not be seen as “electioneering”.
“We are not thinking of voters now. We are thinking of the future of our communities. We need to give our children better infrastructure to further their education.
“Asbestos kills people and we need to rid our community of these types of building structures. Our programme is to remove the asbestos structures as we care about the health of our learners, educators and education support staff. We want to be rid of all asbestos structure schools by 2030. We do not want an asbestos school in 2030 in the Province.”
Monakali advised community members to take full ownership of the school.
“This school will be equipped with a computer laboratory. We do not want incidents where we hear reports that the computers were stolen and the school was vandalised. The only way we can curb such incidents is when the community works in partnership with the school governing body (SGB) and the teachers to ensure that vandalism does not occur. Such incidents hamper not only service delivery, but also the proper education of our children.”
He also urged the community not to buy stolen property.
“Community members should also not make it possible for such incidents to occur by buying stolen property used in the construction of the school. Do not go and buy a computer or any other property that was stolen from the school.”