Basic Education underspends R561 million meant for mud schools, water and sanitation

OCTOBER 16, 2014

According to Democratic Alliance (DA), the Department of Basic Education’s Annual Report for 2013/14, presented to the portfolio committee on education in Parliament this week, has revealed that R561 million, intended for the replacement of mud schools, and for the provision of water and sanitation at schools, was not spent this year.

The underspent monies formed part of the funding for the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI).

“This underspending has directly resulted in a failure to deliver classrooms to learners in need,” Desiree van der Walt, the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, said in a statement.

The ASIDI target for 2013/14 was to deliver 140 schools, but only 36 were completed. This highlights a massive shortfall: 75% of the promised schools were not delivered.

 “The Department has explained this away in its Annual Report by saying that during the 2013/14 financial year, 140 schools were at different stages of planning or construction, that therefore the Department was seized with 140 projects, and that, in its view, the Department therefore achieved the target of 140 schools during the year in question,” van de Walt said.

 “This is, quite frankly, nonsense and purposeful deception by the Department of Basic Education. No reasonable person would understand the target in this way, and no reasonable person will accept this fanciful explanation. The DA rejects this bending of statistics as outright dishonesty.”

 She said that of more concern was the Department’s distinct lack of solutions.

“The Annual Report states that ‘The Department continues to work with all stakeholders to improve infrastructure in the targeted schools.’ Yet this is clearly more deception from the Department.

“A section of the Report headed ‘Strategies to overcome areas of underperformance’ provides not one single solution, but merely restates the problems,” van de Walt said.

 “The DA has long held that the ASIDI programme is losing ground constantly, and is well behind schedule.

 “The children attending unsafe mud schools are the real victims of this mismanagement. Learners across the country are being denied the most basic necessary infrastructure needed to facilitate education.”

 She said she would write to the Minister Angie Motshekga urging her to launch an urgent investigation into this gross underspending to be tabled before Parliament upon its completion. The DA will then urge the Minister to take swift action against those responsible for this underspending.

 “The Minister has to act swiftly to ensure that our children do not endure unsafe learning environments,” van de Walt said.