We need to ensure that all schools in South Africa are safe environments where no child risks drowning in a pit toilet or being stabbed by a fellow pupil
The Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (Asidi) was introduced in 2011 to address poor infrastructure at schools across the country.
By 2018, 126 schools had been allocated to the programme by the Department of Basic Education, but despite progress, there are concerns that progress is too slow in eliminating the backlogs in school infrastructure.
In particular, Asidi aims to ensure all schools are provided with water, sanitation and electricity, and to fix those constructed of inappropriate materials such as mud and asbestos.
Not for the first time, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu has expressed unease at how the money allocated for Asidi infrastructure is accounted for: whether prescribed supply chain rules are followed and if there is wasteful expenditure.
In his latest audit report, Makwetu indicated that he did not get proper financial statements from the department and, as a result, was unable to determine whether adjustments were necessary to the stated capital assets.
He also found payments made in contravention of supply chain management prescripts, which led to irregular expenditure not being disclosed, and that the Department of Basic Education did not have adequate internal controls to identify and prevent irregular expenditure.
The department was swift to react, with Director-General Matanzima Mweli promising an investigation into all cases of irregular expenditure – something which is welcomed, considering the importance of Asidi in modernising education facilities, especially in rural and poor urban areas.
We need to ensure that all schools in South Africa are safe environments where no child risks drowning in a pit toilet or being stabbed by a fellow pupil.
We need to ensure that they are places conducive to learning, with teachers who are enablers to that learning, and a syllabus that is relevant to the country’s needs and the empowerment of the future generation.