Infrastructure at poor schools will be improved through the 94+ Schools Project for Madiba, which will give hope and dignity to children in at least 94 schools.
A NEW campaign to alleviate the infrastructure backlog in primary schools in poor communities will make a significant contribution to fulfilling Nelson Mandela’s dream for every child in South Africa to be educated.
The new campaign will make a significant contribution to fulfill Nelson Mandela’s dream for every child in South Africa to be educated (Photo: Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory)The new campaign will make a significant contribution to fulfill Nelson Mandela’s dream for every child in South Africa to be educated (Photo: Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory)The primary objective of the 94+ Schools Project for Madiba is to celebrate Mandela’s 94th birthday by giving hope and dignity to children in at least 94 schools, among them schools in Johannesburg, through improvements to school infrastructure.
The initiative was launched by the Department of Basic Education in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation ahead of this year’s Nelson Mandela Day, which is celebrated every year on the former statesman’s birthday, on 18 July.
It was officially declared in 2009 by the UN as an annual international day in honour of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The aim of the day is to inspire individuals to take action to help make the world a better place.
At the campaign’s launch, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that the new project would change the lives of thousands of pupils.
Her department has identified 94 schools in all nine provinces in need of urgent infrastructure upgrades. Children and teachers in some of these schools get by with less than the basics. Children are taught in mud structures and don’t have any sport facilities, any sanitation or running water.
“Former President Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday presents the [department] with a rare opportunity to do good with our school infrastructure,” Motshekga said.
Basic Education’s director-general, Bobby Soobrayan, said that with the campaign, the department wanted to create an environment that was conducive to quality teaching, learning and improved performance in targeted schools.
“Public-private partnerships are one of the most effective ways to meet infrastructure backlogs,” Soobrayan said.
Motshekga said Mandela forged invaluable partnerships with the private sector towards the building of schools, particularly in poor communities – an initiative on which the education sector could build.
Brand South Africa
Brand South Africa’s chief executive, Miller Matola, said the project was a call to the government, business and civil society to get involved in transforming education. “We have to find new ways to build human capital in our country,” Matola said. “Our approach requires innovation and partnerships to deal with the challenges.”
Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola says the project is a call to get involved in transforming education in the country (Photo: Nicky Rehbock)Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola says the project is a call to get involved in transforming education in the country (Photo: Nicky Rehbock)The campaign is a creative response to the enormous infrastructure challenges that negatively affect the quality of teaching and learning in many South African schools.
To date, significant achievements have been recorded in the provision of infrastructure to schools: 1 206 schools and 38 664 additional classrooms have been built; 5 214 schools have received water infrastructure; 10 621 sanitation projects have been completed; 2 847 schools have been given electrical infrastructure and 2 655 schools have had security fencing installed.
Despite these achievements, however, there are still huge gaps in infrastructure provision, such as a shortage of classrooms, laboratories and libraries; a lack of adequate sanitation; replacement of mud, prefabricated and metal structures; inadequate maintenance leading to leaking roofs, broken windows and doors; and a lack of sports facilities.
The Basic Education Department estimates that R66,6-billion is required to elevate all ordinary schools to a level of optimal functionality; this amount excludes escalating costs. An additional R20-billion is needed for maintenance and repairs to existing infrastructure.
The government has admitted that it cannot solve the problem alone, and has appealed to all South Africans to lend a hand. Motshekga said that with current budget allocations, it would take the department 30 years to clear the current backlog in infrastructure and maintenance.
Matola said the initiative was much more than a corporate social investment project. “Our contribution to this project is leaving a legacy for our children.”
The campaign is also part of the government’s broader infrastructure roll-out plan to provide better living conditions for all. In addition, it is expected to contribute to South Africa’s skills development programme by providing skills training to unemployed young adults.
The chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Achmat Dangor, said that infrastructure was just the beginning. “After that we have to make sure that our young people become the innovators that South Africa and the world needs,” he said.
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