Religious organisations can play a vital role in developing the communities of South Africa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on government and its social partners to strengthen their working relationship to address backlogs in the provision of school and health infrastructure.
Speaking at the opening of Marobathota High School and Evelyn Lekganyane Clinic in Polokwane, Limpopo recently, the President said backlogs in public infrastructure impact negatively on children’s basic rights to a decent basic education and to health, safety and dignity within educational facilities.
“They impact on the right of our people to access health- care services and in the most severe cases, on their right to life and dignity.
The refurbished and extended facilities of the Marobathota High School and Evelyn Lekganyane Clinic were funded by the Zion Christian Church, led by Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane.
“The work that has been undertaken here at Marobathota High School forms part of a broader national effort to build a positive school environment.
He defined a positive school environment as one that has appropriate facilities, well-managed classrooms, available school-based health support, and a clear, fair disciplinary policy.
President Ramaphosa said government is committed to using schools as vehicles for promoting access to a range of public services among learners in areas such as health, poverty alleviation, psychosocial support, sport and culture.
“We are working with the private sector and development partners to eradicate pit latrines and other inappropriate sanitation facilities in all our schools within the next three years.
“Our experience tells us that school infrastructure is the foundation but effective learning requires a comprehensive approach that addresses not only all aspects of the teaching and learning experience, but also the social conditions under which learners live,” the President said.
The President said safety in schools cannot be overemphasised.
''We need to work together as school communities to end the scourge of violence in our schools.
“This starts in our homes, on our streets, in our community centres, in our churches, mosques, synagogues and temples.”
He thanked faith-based leaders for their role in addressing some of the challenges schools face.