Some three years ago government took on an ambitious goal to rid the country of mud schools and improve the learning environments of South African children.
Less than three years later, the Department of Basic Education has launched just over 100 schools across the country.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga handed over the 99th school that was demolished and built from scratch in Riverton in the Western Cape recently.
The handover of Valhalla Primary School, the Minister said, was not only a milestone, but significant as it would create a conducive learning and teaching environment for the learners and teachers at the school.
“What it will bring into the community is infrastructure that is versatile, that they can use it as a pubic hall so there is a good relationship between the school and the community. It means we are also bringing an asset to the community itself.
“For us it is an asset that we bring to the community. It is a lifelong infrastructure that creates a conducive working and learning environment for our kids with all the necessary facilities that are needed in the school,” she said.
The hand over was part of the R8.2 billion Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative (ASIDI).
ASIDI is a massive public-private partnership programme that aims to replace about 510 schools nationwide that were not properly built.
Established in 1980, Valhalla Primary School was demolished and built from scratch at a cost of R34 million.
From a school that only housed 600 learners in 2006, it now accommodates 1 047 learners in 32 classrooms, which now boasts a library and a science laboratory.
A new soccer ground will be built in the area where the old structure was situated. Andrew Lochner, the school’s principal, said the new-look school would raise the bar of learning.
“It gave us just that hope to build a better future and I can say that the fact that we are in Elsies River doesn’t mean we need to settle for mediocrity.
“We need to tell learners and prove to learners that we need to raise the bar and build on a better future,” he said.
He added that the school was the pride of the community, and that he was excited at the news that his school was identified as part of the ASIDI programme.
“We will teach our leaners and we do hope that they will appreciate this building and that it will uplift them as learners. They must not wait for something to happen. They must get to a point where they will actually say ‘I will do my bit in order to make things happen’,” Lochner said.
Meanwhile in April this year, the department handed over the 100th school in Kroonstad in the Free State as part of the ASIDI programme.
The school is named after Dorrington Matsepe, the father of the late Communications Minister, Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri.
It was established in 1992 and started with 500 pupils and 15 educators – today the school has 1 100 pupils.
Most pupils at the school are orphans, but despite these challenges, the school is performing well in the Annual National Assessments (ANA). Last year, it achieved a bronze in mathematics (60 – 69 per cent) and became one of the 50 top schools in the province.
A total of 106 schools have been completed to date: