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70 schools in SA red-flagged for structural defects

18 February 2019

A tragedy similar to
the one at Hoërskool Driehoek is possible at 70 schools in South Africa, after
they were red-flagged for structural defects.

On February 1, the
country mourned the death of four pupils after a concrete slab above a corridor
at Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijlpark collapsed. Twenty-two pupils were
injured, some severely.

On 15 February, the
Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAOU) released its national survey on school
infrastructure, identifying 70 schools (most in Gauteng and Mpumalanga) being
on the brink of collapse.

SAOU’s director of
operations Johan Kruger said: “Last week, we visited another school in Gauteng
where we found a block of classroom[s] with serious structural problems. The
principal of the school then shut down the affected block and asked us not to
reveal the identity of the school.

“The SAOU launched a
national survey to obtain a more informed picture of the degree of compliance
with regulations relating to Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public
School Infrastructure.

“Arising from the
survey, SAOU has identified over 70 schools with infrastructure problems
requiring urgent and serious attention to parts of the buildings. The average
age of the schools participating in the survey is 68 years,” he said.

Schools from Quintile
1 to 5 participated; schools in the poorest communities are classified as
Quintile 1 and schools serving the wealthiest communities are classified as
Quintile 5.

Infrastructure in
schools deemed to be dangerous included roofs, corridors, staircases, cracks in
walls, asbestos classrooms and sewage.

Kruger said 68.3% of
the infrastructure problems were reported to the department and 31.7% of were
not. And, 71.7% of the schools did not receive any feedback.

“The SAOU will
monitor the situation closely and where possible, pay site visits to the
affected schools to assist with the submission of complaints or requests for
maintenance by the department,” he said.

Gauteng MEC for
Education, Panyaza Lesufi convened a meeting with student governing body
associations, principals and learner leaders to discuss infrastructure
maintenance and challenges in schools.

Spokesperson Steve
Mabona said: “Schools in some areas, including Tshwane, Kagiso and Roodepoort,
were shut down by parents who demanded the MEC come and see them personally
because they said the infrastructure of some schools in their areas was not
safe,” he said.

Lesufi said schools
in the province were becoming death traps and if nothing was done, more
tragedies would bring shame. He said his department had secured a loan of

“This was a decision we took together with Gauteng Premier David Makhura. By the year 2023, all mobile schools in the province will be history. In the next two years, all asbestos schools will fall and we will build new schools,” the MEC said.https://citizen.co.za/news/south-africa/general/2084890/70-schools-in-sa-red-flagged-for-structural-defects/

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