DA deeply saddened by infrastructure collapse at Tembisa school, as children increasingly unsafe at schools

Issued by Baxolile 'Bax' Nodada MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
28 Feb 2024 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP.

The DA wishes the 18 learners who were injured when the ceiling of the Umthambeka Primary School in Tembisa collapsed on them, a speedy recovery. 18 grade 6 learners had to be rushed to the hospital for urgent medical attention after this life-threatening encounter. It is shameful that it has increasingly become the norm for learners to sustain injuries at school and in some cases, lose their lives.

While the Department of Basic Education has launched an investigation into the incident, the cause is clear – ANC government failure.

30 years into democracy, South African children continue to learn in inadequate and unsafe spaces. Notably, according to most recent statistics:

  • 3 932 schools continue to use pit toilets, with 728 of them having pit toilets alone;
  • 74% (16 774 schools) continue to be without libraries;
  • 82.6% (18 671 schools) continue to be without science labs;
  • 66.2% (14 949 schools) continue to be without computer labs; and
  • 43.1% (9735 schools) continue to be without recreational / sporting facilities.

This dire picture is not expected to improve, as the Department continues to cut funding. Over the medium term, budget cuts will amount to approximately R2.8 billion, and this includes R1.2 billion to the School Infrastructure Backlogs Grant (SIBG) and R600 million to the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG). These cuts will affect the building of new schools, maintenance of existing schools, as well as the hiring of teachers and support staff. In total, across the medium term, the Department will fall short of its target to address overcrowding at 8 133 schools by building the 70 043 additional classrooms required.

The Department is also set to miss its target to eliminate critical infrastructure backlogs by 2030, as it continues to fall short of the R20 billion year-on-year spending required. Based on current estimates, the Department will only meet this target in 2038, and this deadline is expected to grow more distant.

The DA has been unequivocal that a change in government is required to improve our standard of basic education. A DA-led government will notably:

  • Improve access to and quality of early childhood development learning, which is pivotal to children’s learning success.
  • Improve learner literacy, as 81% of grade 4 learners are unable to read for meaning in any language.
  • Promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) education to gear learners to be globally competitive.
  • Improve teacher competence.
  • Introduce independent national tests for grades 3, 6 and 9 and establishing targeted interventions for schools.
  • Reducing the school dropout rate and diversifying the curriculum to suit learner aptitudes.

The Western Cape’s innovative Rapid School Build programme is so successful that National Treasury has made an additional provisional allocation of R2.549 billion to it. This programme built Saxonsea Junior Secondary in just 65 days, and learners are already reaping the rewards in brand new schools and classrooms in Belhar, Kwanokuthula, and Fisherhaven.

The injury of these 18 learners should be the last straw; Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, must be fired. South Africans also have the opportunity to fire this government on 29 May 2024, as voters are presented with a choice between an uncaring, failing ANC government and DA government with a plan to rescue our schools.