By Kaya 959 News
The DA has accused the Gauteng Department of Education of failing its children after a report revealed how the department had underspent its budget.
Gauteng spokesperson on education, Khume Ramulifho, said they were concerned that school children in the province were still being taught in asbestos classrooms.
“The Department of Education failed to exercise its responsibility to conduct crucial maintenance to school buildings,” he said.
He said the department had underspent its budget of R1.6 billion for the 2020/2021 financial year.
“This money could have been used to eradicate asbestos classrooms and conduct crucial maintenance to dilapidated schools,” he said.
Under expenditure of R1.6 billion
Ramulifho said the department received an initial allocation of R52.9 billion. In terms of year-to-date expenditure, the department has spent R51.2 billion. This leaves the department with an under expenditure of R1.6 billion during the financial period.
“The constant failure by the department to spend its full budget has a consequential impact on delivering quality education to children,”Ramulifho said.
He said most of the school infrastructure is old and dilapidated, and in dire need of proper regular maintenance, yet the department left billions of rands unspent.
“This clearly indicates a lack of proper planning by the department as they are aware of the infrastructure challenges facing our schools.
“This money could have been used in eradicating asbestos schools, building more schools where there are new housing developments, particularly in Johannesburg North, Johannesburg South, Ekurhuleni, and Tshwane to avoid overcrowding in classrooms,” Ramulifho said.
Proper budget allocation
The environment in which both learners and teachers are exposed to on a daily basis in many of the schools across the province is not conducive for learning and teaching was of great concern.
Teachers and learners deserve a safe and comfortable environment in which to work and learn.
“We will continue to exert pressure on the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi to reprioritise the department’s expenditure plans to ensure proper budget allocation, focusing on school infrastructure by building more schools and classrooms, eradicating asbestos schools, and providing regular, proper maintenance,” Ramulifho said.
He added that the party believed that under expenditure on education and related infrastructure is a dereliction of duty and fails our children and future, given the very high demand for quality education in the province.
The DA is concerned about the social and economic impacts it has when children do not receive proper education in properly built and maintained schools.
Riverlea School damage
Ramulifho further called on the department to urgently see to the infrastructure damage at Riverlea School.
Eight classrooms were burnt down more than five years ago, and while the department has been aware of this for the entire time, they have failed to fix and restore them.
“The school infrastructure is old and dilapidated and needs urgent attention,” he said.
He said safety and security is also a challenge at the school as they have experienced several break-ins and burglaries where school valuables have been stolen.
“There is a lack of sufficient patrollers to safeguard the school,” he said.