Mbombela – The Mpumalanga education department has budgeted R620 million to get rid of mud schools in the province, build extra classes, provide a school for pupils with special needs and refurbish dilapidating buildings.
Department spokesperson Jasper Zwane said R379 million would be used to accelerate school infrastructure development and to eradicate mud and unsafe structures at schools.
He said the department would also spend R65 million to build a school to accommodate children with special needs.
“Our deaf learners have to go outside the province to access secondary education. The department will build a comprehensive school for them,” he said.
Presenting the department’s R12.9 billion budget in the provincial legislature on Tuesday, education MEC Reginah Mhaule said construction of the special needs school would start in the 2012/2013 financial year.
She said the department would also build a school to cater for special needs children in the Bohlabela educational district in the 2011/2012 period.
“We are going to build four of these types of schools to ensure that children with disabilities get an opportunity to grow their different potentials. We are appealing to families [with] children with disabilities to come forward in order to give government an opportunity to assist where it can,” said Mhaule.
Mhaule said a further R29 million was set aside to build Grade R facilities at public schools, while R18 million would be used to recapitalise five technical secondary schools, which provide pupils with technical skills so that they can get jobs after matriculating.
The department was also building four boarding schools, one in the Ehlanzeni educational district, another in the Nkangala district and two others in the Gert Sibande district.
“We will also focus on the revitalisation of all other boarding schools for utilisation during the winter school period,” she said.
When asked if all the money that was allocated for infrastructure in the last financial year had been used, Zwane said the building of infrastructure covered a three-year cycle.
“The projects that were started in the past financial year are still underway. There’s no stage where you can say a budget is enough because there’s a lot of work to be done,” said Zwane.
Zwane said other projects that are underway but that weren’t mentioned in the budget speech included mobile libraries.
The provincial education department has been increased from R11.5 million in the 2010/2011 year to R12.952 billion this financial year.
Source – BuaNews – by Masoka Dube