Residents of Libode in the Eastern Cape were beaming with joy when Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga officially handed over a brand new school to the community.
Sonata Junior Primary School was built through a private-public partnership between the Departments of Basic Education, Mineral Resources and AngloGold Ashanti.
The project saw the stakeholders come together to replace an inappropriate mud structure with six classrooms, an administration block, ablution facilities and fencing around the school grounds.
Speaking at the handover recently, Minister Motshekga said that the school had brought hope to young people in the area.
“This successful partnership that’s aimed at bringing quality schools to historically disadvantaged children in rural parts of the country has given us new hope for Sonata Junior Primary,” said Minister Motshekga.
“We thank AngloGold Ashanti for the commitment to uplift the standards of education, particularly in rural areas, which have seen decades of exclusion and unequal treatment. The new structure will improve the quality of life and education of the children and teachers. It will contribute to their constitutional right to dignity.”
The vice president of AngloGold Ashanti, Mike O’Hare, described the handover as a proud moment in the partnership.
“This is an ongoing commitment for us and we have built a number of schools in collaboration with government since 2006,” he said. O’Hare also announced that the company would provide new school uniforms to every learner at the school.
The investment by AngloGold Ashanti has boosted government’s drive to eliminate mud schools, inappropriate and unsafe school structures by 2015.
Government has committed funds to deal with the infrastructure backlog through the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative. By working with the private sector, government is making headway in providing learners with safe and suitable environments conducive to learning and teaching.
In the past year alone, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in partnership with business partners has built several new schools.
In Lephalale in Limpopo DBE joined hands with Vodacom to build a new state-of-the-art school to service the town, which is experiencing rapid population growth.
Lephalale Primary School comprises 26 classrooms, a computer and science laboratory, an administration block and sports field. The school also received a multimedia centre, which features the latest communications technology.
In the North West, Sunrise View Primary School was officially handed over to the community of Boitekong in January 2013. The school, which will ultimately include a secondary school and a community hall, is part of an R80 million partnership between DBE and Impala Bafokeng Trust.
In February 2013, DBE opened a new Grade R facility at Mbonisweni Primary School in Tongaat, KwaZulu-Natal. The facility was the latest project of the Adopt-A-School Foundation.
Through these projects DBE and private partners are working together to steadily ease the backlog of school infrastructure.
* Terence Khala works for the Department of Basic Education.