Tuesday, 19 April 2022 15:17

Basic Education to speed up plans of rebuilding schools affected by floods.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

KwaZulu-Natal's Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu says around R442 million is needed to repair the schools that have been damaged by the floods.

Mshengu was speaking at Brettenwood School where he joined Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, who's visiting schools that have suffered some damage.

"That's only related to infrastructure as you can see in this school, a lot of things have been damaged. Literally, the only things you find in schools are teachers and learners, but in terms of teacher support material and other equipment is completely gone."

"So we are quantifying those damages now, so definitely the figure will go up. That's what we are expecting from now on that's why we said all our schools will open today, but we were mindful of the fact that not all schools can commence with teaching and learning." 

Officials say 630 schools were affected by last week's torrential rains.

A total of 101 of them are inaccessible.

Motshekga said the damage to schools was a setback.

"This is a major setback because we have serious infrastructure problems in the sector. It means we have to redirect resources to help with ongoing problems."

She said the department was assessing the damage to see when schooling could return to normal.

"We are assessing where the damages are and what is possible under the circumstances and what we need to do to get things back to normal. We will be bringing professional teams of engineers to assess the damages. Books are also an issue... if we want schools to open, we have to send in books because they are all destroyed. We really are prioritising what we need to do to get schools open. We want schools to be open immediately," she said.

She said another important reason to reopen schools was to count the human cost of the floods.

Motshekga says they're also providing support to pupils who've been affected by the floods.  

"Displaced kids, kids who are orphaned who lost their parents, kids who are own their own that's where the province has put in place psycho-social service programme which is going to be led by social development. 

Meanwhile the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture, has called on the Basic Education Department to attend to Grade 12 learners affected by floods in KwaZulu-Natal and to ensure that teaching and learning time is not compromised.

Committee Chairperson, Elleck Nchabeleng said that a clear provincial plan has to be drafted, adopted and approved by the Department of Basic Education so that the gross impact of floods is mitigated when it comes to the mid-year examinations.

"The Class of 2022 should be able to apply for tertiary placements and the mid-year examinations are a barometer by which many institutions based their admissions criteria.

"They have to attend to this as it threatens to have a long term impact on the future of the affected learners beyond the contact time they will miss," Nchabeleng said in a statement.

"We were not able to access our kids. We were only able to get reports from those centres which are not necessarily run by us." 

Nchabeleng also noted that this year’s Grade 12 class had already been severely affected by two years of inconsistent contact teaching and learning due to the COVID-19 outbreak. He said the committee is concerned that prolonged disruption of class time posed potential learning gaps.