Basic Education Minister saddened by death of learner

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has expressed sadness following the death of five-year-old learner, who fell into a pit latrine on Tuesday. 

Viwe Jali was at Luna Primary School in Bizana in the Eastern Cape at the time of her passing. 

“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 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 at the local police station. Investigations are continuing to establish the circumstances surrounding Viwe’s death. 

The Basic Education Department said it is doing everything in its capacity to address infrastructure backlogs 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 the 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,” Minister Motshekga said. 

Enforcing infrastructure maintenance 

Currently, 5 225 maintenance projects are underway around the country and the Eastern Cape has already exhausted its maintenance budget. 

The Department of Basic Education has introduced a 12% minimum budget for each province to be dedicated to maintenance. 

The step was taken 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 ASIDI has delivered 191 schools to date, of those 141 are 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 three years on ASIDI, which will cause challenges when it comes to school infrastructure delivery. The cuts were part of a government-wide reprioritisation of funds. –

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