The Gauteng Department of Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi has failed to eradicate asbestos schools in the province. He constantly promises to replace all asbestos schools and classrooms with brick-and-mortar structures but to date this has not yet materialised.
According to MEC Lesufi, the department intends to replace 25 asbestos schools within the next five years and the remainder of the schools will be completed after the five-year period.
MEC Lesufi was responding to my written questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).
A budget of R 38 811 000.00 has been allocated in this current financial year to replace 25 schools built predominantly of asbestos.
Of these 25 asbestos schools identified, only two are in the construction phase while ten are in the feasibility stage; six schools are in the inception stage; two schools are in the concept stage; three schools are in the design stage; one school is in the tender preparation stage and another one is in the retention stage.
This is the same number of schools that MEC Lesufi provided to me in a reply over five years ago and the timeframe given has been changing. Initial target was 2016 and then moved to 2022 but now it has changed again.
This clearly indicates that the department is not serious about eradicating asbestos schools in the province and cares little about the health and safety of both learners and teachers.
Money is not a challenge for this department as it has spent R450 million on deep cleaning schools in the province. Surely this money could have been used to replace asbestos schools with brick-and-mortar structures.
The Gauteng Department of Education should allocate more budget to school infrastructure. All asbestos schools must be demolished and rebuilt with brick-and-mortar structures before end of this current term of office.
For the longest time, the DA has been putting pressure on this department to eradicate asbestos schools. We have tabled several written and oral questions to both former MEC Barbara Creecy and current MEC Lesufi in the GPL as well as delivering numerous Member Statements in the House as a way of exposing the state of our schools. A motion on school’s infrastructure was also tabled demanding that the department eradicate all asbestos schools in the province.
MEC Lesufi has on several occasions made promises to replace asbestos schools but the pace is very slow.
The department has failed to eradicate asbestos schools within the targeted time frame, the deadline of which was the end of November 2016.
We will submit our proposal during budget debates to put pressure on MEC Lesufi to fulfil his promises and to ensure that all asbestos schools and classrooms are demolished and rebuilt with brick-and-mortar structures before end of this term.