Asidi: Building better education infrastructure for our children

The R8.2-billion Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative, soon to hand over its 100th school, is upgrading education environments for teachers and learners across South Africa, writes basic education minister Angie Motshekga.

asidi1A state-of-the-art Asidi school built in partnership with the Coega Development Corporation in Ugie, Eastern Cape, at a cost of R38-million. (Image: Intsika Architects)

Angie largeMinister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga

In October 2012, in the Eastern Cape, President Jacob Zuma handed over the first of 49 new schools refurbished under the government’s Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (Asidi). With that, the government signalled its largest move yet towards eradicating mud schools in South Africa.

Now, less than three years later, we are preparing to hand over the 100th Asidi school, this time in the Free State. The ambitious R8.2-billion Asidi programme seeks to provide conducive teaching and learning conditions for teachers and learners by changing the face of school infrastructure in South Africa. It’s the first programme of its kind to bring together government and private financial institutions to eliminate inappropriate structures such as mud schools. The deadline is the end of this year, and we are on course to meet it.

When we launched Asidi a few years ago, we told South Africans we would not rest until we had created an enabling environment to promote a culture of learning and improve the quality of our education system.

Education remains an important priority, as it is the key to unlocking the chains of poverty and putting our economy on the path to prosperity.

The 100th Asidi school, to be handed over on 30 April, is Dorrington Matsepe Primary School near the township of Troubou, in Kroonstad. It is named after the father of Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, the late communications minister.

When it was established in 1992 the school had 500 pupils and 15 educators. Today it has 1 100 pupils, most of them orphans.

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.

This is the kind of success story that must be told. And the refurbishment of the school can only further improve its performance.

It is all about our children: the future belongs to them. It is up to us to do our best to ensure we create an enabling environment for them to excel. In doing this, the country will shape future leaders and create a skilled workforce able to contribute to economic growth.

In the Eastern Cape alone some 52 schools have been handed over so far and a total of 80 completed to replace mud schools.

There are 25 Asidi schools in the Western Cape, 11 of them already complete and handed over. Schools built by the provincial department will bring the total to 33.

Ten other schools will be built in the Free State and a handful in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.

Our aim is not just to hand over schools, but to provide the added touch of quality infrastructure. Our ultimate goal is to make all schools in South Africa whole schools, where our children will be able to develop academically, socially and physically in interactive classrooms equipped with state-of-the-art computers and laboratories, guided by dedicated teachers.

The biggest challenge is maintenance. We appeal to communities to protect these facilities for the benefit of future generations.