By SAnews.gov.za – More Matshediso
Johannesburg – About R690 million has been set aside to build new schools in Gauteng during the 2014/15 financial year, said Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Thursday.
He said an additional R540.3 million has been allocated towards the rehabilitation of schools in the province.
The MEC was speaking at the official opening of the Peter Zokwana Primary School at Phomolong, Tembisa, in Johannesburg.
Peter Zongwane Primary was the first of 17 schools to be opened during the 2014/15 financial year. It is aimed at alleviating the pressure of the rapidly growing learner population in the province.
MEC Lesufi said he will officially open a new school in Gauteng every week. The schools will be complete and fully functional.
The newly built R45-million primary school accommodates more than 1 200 learners from grade R to 7.
One of the learners, who were training on the new soccer pitch at the school, Phetole Mabunda, said he wakes up with a smile on his face every morning because he attends the most beautiful school in his area.
“The school is beautiful, I love it. I love everything here, even the teachers… the classes are comfortable as well,” said 12-year-old Phetole, who was transferred to the school while in grade 3.
Now in grade seven, Phetole said over and above enjoying his studies, he loves the breaks in between classes because there are various sporting codes in which he participates.
“…I love soccer, I am one of the goalkeepers… We train at least twice every week. The new soccer pitch will help me improve my skills in sports. I love running and diving on the lawn,” said Phetole.
The state-of-the-art primary school has three grade R classrooms and 23 other classrooms. The school also has a library, sports facilities and a laboratory.
MEC Lesufi said the primary school is an alternative technology school built to alleviate pressure from the existing primary schools in Phomolong.
“Peter Zongwane Primary is a response to a pressing backlog for schools here in Tembisa. We acknowledge that we still have a long way to go in meeting the full complement of the backlog of the demand for schools in the province.
“I am happy that we have responded to this with a school that accommodates 1 269 learners,” the MEC said.
Principal Tsakani Chidi said she was glad the province was investing in education to shape communities.
“He who opens a school door, closes a prison,” she said.
She welcomed the MEC’s initiative of twinning schools in the province, which will see her school mutually benefiting from former model C schools in Tembisa.
“We will be working together with Mooifontein Primary and Hoerskool Birchleigh… We will benefit from their resources, and they will use our sports facilities,” said Chidi.
She said other neighbouring schools were welcome to use facilities in her school for the benefit of the Phomolong community.
MEC Lesufi was accompanied by Infrastructure Development MEC, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, who said the construction of the school has contributed close to 150 new jobs for members of the community.
“We also employed the services of local sub-contractors, who did the ceilings, painting and electrical work,” said MEC Mayathula-Khoza.
Learner population increases
MEC Lesufi said public school enrolment has been rising with the average of 2% per year. However, the number of educators (including School Governing Body-paid educators) currently stands at 77 265.
He said Gauteng has a 2.1 million learner population, representing about 20% of the overall population of the province.
“The department successfully increased the number of non-fee schools to 1 310 schools and is currently supporting in 1 112 605 learners. We have provided scholar transport to 70 207 learners in the province,” said MEC Lesufi.
He said Gauteng is one of the few provinces without vacancies in schools.
“There is a teacher in every class,” MEC Lesufi said.
MEC Lesufi has identified school infrastructure as one of the key priorities for the department.