Since 2009, South Africa’s Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative, known as Asidi, has been building, renovating and providing essential water, sanitation and electricity to schools across the country, improving education – particularly for rural children.
The Asidi initiative was kickstarted by Department of Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga in her first term of office. Motshekga, a former teacher, was concerned about the state of hundreds of schools in rural and underprivileged areas. The solution was Asidi. After rigorous planning and funding approval from the National Treasury, the programme started building and upgrading schools in various provinces in 2010.
Asidi’s main aim is to ensure all of the country’s schools comply with basic safety norms set out by the education department. This means providing water, sanitation and electricity to schools without these essentials, and reconstructing old schools built by rural communities from the materials they had at hand – the so-called “mud schools” – with bricks and mortar.
Asidi is funded by the Schools Infrastructure Backlog Grant. The programme falls under Integrated Infrastructure Management System, run by National Treasury and the Construction Industry Development Board.
Five years into the initiative, Asidi is bearing fruit. Achievements so far include:
• Schools: 89 schools completed
• Water: 318 schools have water supplies for the first time
• Sanitation: 351 schools have installed decent sanitation systems
• Electrification: 279 schools have been connected to electricity for the first time.
Locals have been so impressed with the quality of their new and upgraded schools, the Asidi team report, that when the new facilities are handed over to communities, the people describe them as “universities”.
By province and year, these are the completed and projected targets of the Asidi programme:
2012/13: 140 schools target
• 29 schools completed in the Eastern Cape
• Seven schools completed in the Western Cape
• Three schools completed in Mpumalanga
• One school completed in Free State
• The balance are at different stages of implementation
2014/15: 150 schools target
• 99 schools in implementation. Framework agreements are in process for the balance.
• 78 of 99 schools at design stage in the Eastern Cape.
• Nine of 99 schools are at a stage of planning and one of 99 schools is at a stage of design in the Free State.
• 11 of 99 schools are at different phases of construction In the Western Cape.
The Asidi team is not just a brick-and-mortar initiative. School handovers are the occasion to celebrate success because a school has been completed – a milestone worth marking.
A state-of-the-art school creates new energy in a community that long thought itself ignored by society. It signals a new start for learners and the vast possibilities that go with that beginning – the possibility of better learning, leading to greater access to the gifts of a democratic society. The completion of an Asidi school means the starting line in the race to success is redrawn for underprivileged children. It means democracy is bearing fruit.