Asidi celebrates 100th school in Free State

The 100th school has been delivered under the government’s Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative with the completion of Dorrington Matsepe Primary School in Kroonstad. The schools all have specialist classrooms and much-needed facilities.

 Asidi_100th_school_free_state_6_article Dorrington Matsepe Primary School in Kroonstad makes it a century, as the Asidi’s 100th school. (Images: Supplied by Asidi)

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Melissa Javan

The Department of Education has made its century – it handed over its 100th school under its Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (Asidi) in Free State on Thursday, 29 April.

More than R70-million was invested through Asidi to rebuild Dorrington Matsepe Primary School, near the township of Troubou, in Kroonstad. This school now has facilities such as a science laboratory, a library, a multipurpose centre and a computer laboratory.

Albert Gumbo, the communications officer for Asidi, explains the programme’s criteria: “It is the replacement of schools built, in their entirety, from inappropriate material. Under this criteria, the programme identified 527 school for which grant funding was sought.

“Since the project started [at the end of 2011], there are now 107 schools completed. A total of 84 schools are completed in the Eastern Cape, 11 in the Western Cape, four each in Mpumalanga and the Free State, two in Limpopo, and one in the Northern Cape,” says Gumbo.

Asidi is funded by the National Treasury.

Here are some of the tweets on the day of celebrations:

Growth in pupil numbers

The 100th Asidi school was named after the father of Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, the late communications minister. “The school got this name in 1992 [when it was established], because Dorrington Matsepe, in his own right, was an educator at the school and later chairman,” says Gumbo.

Earlier this month, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that in 1992, the school had 500 pupils and 15 teachers. “Today it has 1 100 pupils; most of them are orphans,” she said. “Despite its challenges I am told that the school performed well in the Annual National Assessments, that last year it achieved a bronze (60% to 69%) in mathematics, and that it has become one of the 50 top schools in the Free State.”

Work on rebuilding the school began in March 2014, and 10 local contractors were employed to undertake the work. During construction, 455 people were employed.

Gumbo says it takes 12 to 15 months to build a school. “But well before that, the process of design, planning, procurement and social facilitation can take up to another 15 months. So a project cycle is typically 25 to 30 months [to build a school].”

The challenges

There are many challenges when it comes to building a school, he adds. “In certain areas, such as the Eastern Cape, the terrain makes it very difficult to access the site. This means that you have cases of double handling of material when drivers of heavy trucks are unable to negotiate a way through.

“This is further compounded in the rainy season when the roads become impassable.”

Poor contractor performance can also be an issue, he admits. “The correct replacement process takes time and this causes delays. On some sites in the Western Cape, the weather is again a factor after heavy downpours, for example, which render a site water-logged and unsafe for work.

“From time to time, because of raised expectations for jobs and sub-contracts, communities can disrupt work on sites for months.”

Gumbo points out that the Asidi programme is much more than brick and mortar. “It is firstly a dividend of democracy, and secondly and perhaps more importantly, it is a programme that is helping to restore dignity to education in rural and under-privileged areas.

 Asidi_100th_school_free_state_1_article There are 1 100 children at Dorrington Matsepe Primary School, which now has a science laboratory, library and computer lab.

“The doors of learning have opened that much wider for learners from those areas because of the increased opportunities for better learning that the facilities and equipment present. Every single Asidi school comes standard with specialist classrooms which include science and computer labs as well as libraries.”

Despite the need for decent educational facilities, there are frequent reports of vandalism of and theft at schools. At a previous engagement at a school in Western Cape, Enver Surty, the deputy minister of education, urged parents to protect their schools. “Collectively, the community must ensure safety and security of this new school. You must also ensure that quality learning takes place. It is your responsibility to jealously guard these facilities as they now belong to you all.”

As part of the Asidi programme, he added, more than 340 schools had received water for the first time. “A total of 351 schools have received decent sanitation, and 288 schools have been connected to electricity.”