The Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga has received a report from the District Education office in the Eastern Cape following the tragic death of Lumka Mkhethwa, also known as Viwe Jali.
The Minister will convene an urgent meeting with MECs and their HoD’s to discuss school infrastructure and find ways of accelerating the eradication of unsafe ablution facilities in particular, but addressing school infrastructure holistically in-line with a directive from President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Once more the Minister is deeply saddened and regrets the tragic loss of such a precious life in such horrendous circumstances. It has always been the view and the position of the Minister that safe and decent facilities, which include sanitation, do not only provide a conducive environment for teaching and learning, but are fundamental to the dignity and human rights of both learners and teachers.
In view of the fact that maintenance and construction of infrastructure is constitutionally a Provincial Government competency, the Minister is calling for an urgent meeting with Provincial Education Departments to determine the best way to support, and work with provinces to ensure President Ramaphosa’s directive is addressed.
In the past when there has been a special need, Government was able to create a special dispensation to help support provinces. We have seen provincial competencies being addressed at a national level as a temporary intervention with programmes like the Accelerated School Infrastructure Initiative (ASIDI). This may be an option that needs to be explored further to address the directive given by the President.
We have seen lots of interest and good will from the public in terms of wanting to assist in providing solutions to the challenges faced by the sector. We will begin by conducting an audit of sanitation facilities at schools within a month and develop and emergency plan which will be sent to the President and National Treasury for consideration. Only then will it be possible to advise stakeholders and business on how they can get involved and assist.
It will assist our country now and in future to look for solutions to these complex challenges, and ensure every child is able to go to school in a safe and conducive environment.
Enquiries: Elijah Mhlanga – 083 580 8275
Troy Martens – 079 899 3070
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE DEPARTMENT OF BASIC EDUCATION