The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) has refuted the Democratic Alliance (DA) claims of “not serious to eradicate asbestos schools” recently. This comes after DA in Gauteng criticised Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi of inability to annihilate Gauteng asbestos schools.
About thousand’s learners in Gauteng are still exposed to asbestos, despite the country having banned the use of the deadly fibre since 2008. In an exclusive interview the Gauteng education department Spokesperson, Steve Mabona told Gauteng News that R473 million has been put away to address the issue.
“The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) has set aside R473 million over the medium term to address the eradication of asbestos in Gauteng schools. There are currently 17 schools which are in the planning phase while 8 of the schools are in the implementation phase of eradicating asbestos,” he said.
DA MEC for Education, Khume Ramulifho said,” The Gauteng Department of Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi has failed to eradicate asbestos schools in the province. He constantly promises to replace all asbestos schools and classrooms with brick-and-mortar structures but to date this has not yet materialised,”
According to MEC Lesufi, the department intends to replace 25 asbestos schools within the next five years. However, the remainder of the schools will be completed after the five-year period.
MEC Lesufi was responding to Ramulifho’s written questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL). A budget of R 38 811 000.00 has been allocated in this current financial year to replace 25 schools built predominantly of asbestos.
Ramulifho stated that out of 25 asbestos schools identified, only two are in the construction phase while ten are in the feasibility stage. According to him this is the same number of schools that MEC Lesufi provided to him in a reply over five years ago.
“Six schools are in the inception stage; two schools are in the concept stage; three schools are in the design stage; one school is in the tender preparation stage and another one is in the retention stage,”
“And the timeframe given has been changing. Initial target was 2016 and then moved to 2022 but now it has changed again. This clearly indicates that the department is not serious about eradicating asbestos schools in the province and cares little about the health and safety of both learners and teachers.”