The 2012 school year kicked off on a somewhat sour note in the province, with about 21 schools in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality finding themselves without electricity because of outstanding payments.
Many of the schools were also waiting for their support material to be delivered amid an undertaking by education MEC Mandla Makupula to deliver the stationery this week.
Eastern Cape schools are also obliged to manage their own school nutrition programmes after being given their own budgets as part of the department’s decentralisation of the programme.
The electricity supply to the schools was cut by the Mandela Bay municipality, starting with the Port Elizabeth district education offices, which have been without electricity since last year.
About R12m in electricity charges is owed by the district to the municipality.
The default by the district headquarters in Sidwell in paying its electricity bill has enraged the provincial education department, which has dismissed any move to bail it out.
The department’s superintendent-general, Modidima Mannya, said he found it strange the institutions affected by power cuts were section 21 schools who received their budget from the department and managed it on their own.
“The schools were given money. These are section 21 schools, which have their own budgets.” Mannya said the department would investigate why the electricity bills were not paid.
District education head Nyathi Ntsiko said the department was still negotiating with the municipality about ways of settling its debt for power to be restored.
The department is expected to at least pay a portion, about R5m, of the amount owed for its power to be restored. Provincial education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani confirmed there would be no bailout. “We are in not in a position to bail out the district,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Zanoxolo Wayile said they sympathised with the children who were affected by the power cut and undertook to reconnect power this week.
“We cannot punish the children by not providing them with electricity, which is a social issue,” he said.
Article source: http://www.thenewage.co.za/40126-1016-53-No_power_at_schools