The Eastern Cape Department of Education underspent on its 2016/17 infrastructure budget by R49-million. The department had received R1.679-billion of which R1,629-billion was spent.
The 2016/2017 output is disappointing and embarrassing to a department that promised so much but achieved so little. The underperformance is disheartening. The actual achievement of school infrastructure targets leaves much to be desired and continues to expose our learners to a tough learning environment.
According to the department’s annual report some of the failed targets were:
- Only 77 schools out of a target of 178 were provided with water supply;
- Only ten schools out of 103 were provided with electricity;
- Only 88 schools were supplied with sanitation facilities out of a target of 259;
- Only 88 classrooms out of a target of 543 were built;
- Only 10 out of 31 schools were completed and only 19 out of a target of 34 new schools are under construction;
- Only 17 out of a target of 93 Grade R classrooms were built;
- Only one out of three hostels were built; and
- Only 23 out of a target of 33 schools were undergoing scheduled maintenance. For the complete table of target and achievements, as well as targets achieved in 2015/16
The DA believes that every cent available must be spent, and spent in a responsible manner that will ensure value for money. It is irresponsible of the department to allow for under-expenditure on much-needed services like school infrastructure. Considering the poor performance in targets being met compared to the R1,629-billion spent, it is debatable whether we got value for money.
The variance in not achieving the set targets are due to the inadequate performance by implementing agents and contractors, lack of competent contractors, insufficient experience by implementing agents and lack of monitoring and assessment by Departmental officials.
Inadequate cash flow projections also contributed in not obtaining the school infrastructure objectives.
The Department of Education is actually in a reverse mode, considering that the infrastructural targets achieved in the 2015/2016 financial year are much higher than in the 2016/2017 financial year. It is actually regressing in terms of school infrastructure delivery if 2015/2016 infrastructure delivery is to be taken as the baseline.
It is time for a change. We need government departments that can and will deliver on their promises. Our children cannot be the losers. The ongoing underperformance of the department is one of the drivers of structural poverty in the Eastern Cape. A DA-government in the Eastern Cape will ensure this situation is turned around.
Edmund van Vuuren
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