It is with an immense sense of sadness that the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga was informed that a learner, 5 year-old Viwe Jali from the Luna Primary School in Bizana, in the Eastern Cape fell into a pit latrine on Tuesday and passed away.
“The death of a child in such an undignified manner is completely unacceptable, and incredibly disturbing. I would like to send my sincere condolences to the family of our Viwe Jali, who passed away tragically on Tuesday. I cannot begin to know the trauma the parents are experiencing, it is truly a tragic incident and my sympathies are with them,” said Minister Motshekga.
Counselling services are being provided to the school, and a case has been opened with the local police station, case 38/3/2018 at the Mzamba Police Station. Investigations are proceeding into the circumstances surrounding Jali’s death.
The Department is doing everything in its capacity to address infrastructure backlogs in a timely manner by prioritising unsafe structures and those without decent sanitation, electricity and water. The Ministry holds bi-weekly meetings with Implementing Agents and the Infrastructure team at the Department to ensure that infrastructure targets are prioritised.
Together with Provincial Education Departments the sector has made significant strides in addressing school infrastructure challenges but budget cuts pose a threat to the provision of much needed infrastructure resources.
“Words cannot express the pain I personally feel at the loss of a young life in this horrific way. To know that as a sector we have not been able to address these infrastructure issues fast enough, for a number of reasons, breaks my heart. When a tragedy like this occurs it makes us more resolute of the continued need for the Accelerated School Infrastructure initiative (ASIDI) so that we can continue to fast track these schools that are in desperate need of infrastructure and make them safe havens for our children,” said Minister Motshekga.
Currently 5 225 maintenance projects are underway around the country and the Eastern Cape had already exhausted its maintenance budget.
The Department of Basic Education has introduced a 12% minimum budget for each province to be dedicated to maintenance. It took this step to compel provinces to set aside funding for maintenance because some provinces were not budgeting for it and letting schools become dilapidated over time.
The Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) has delivered 191 schools to date, of those 141 have been in the Eastern Cape replacing inappropriate structures. The initiative has also provided water to 666, sanitation to 453 and electricity to 372 sites around the country with the majority of these projects also being in the Eastern Cape. This excludes schools built by the provinces through their Education Infrastructure Grant.
Despite the progress made thus far more than R3,5 billion will be cut in the next 3 years on ASIDI which would create challenges when it comes to school infrastructure delivery. The cuts were part of a government-wide reprioritisation of funds.
Enquiries: Elijah Mhlanga – 083 580 8275 | Troy Martens – 079 899 3070