Unnecessary delays in eradicating asbestos schools pose a safety and health risk for learners and teachers

Issued by Khume Ramulifho MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education
12 Jul 2021 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is very concerned that the replacement of the asbestos structures with brick-and-mortar structures at the Nancefield Primary School in Eldorado Park has been stalled for five months. Both learners and teachers deserve conducive learning and teaching environment.

Nancefield Primary School is among the 25 asbestos schools identified by the Gauteng Department of Education that will be replaced with brick-and-mortar structures.

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education, Khume Ramulifho MPL and the DA Johannesburg PR Councillor, Vasco Da Gama, conducted an oversight inspection at the Nancefield Primary School.

They were disappointed to discover that the construction at this school has been on hold for five months. There are claims that the contractors have not been paid, there are no building materials, and there is a lack of communication from both the Gauteng Department of Education and the Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) and Property Management.

This is unacceptable considering the plight of our learners who are taught in an environment that is not safe and poses a health risk.

The Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi has on several occasions made promises to replace asbestos schools but the pace is very slow, and the department will not be able to meet its deadline to replace 25 asbestos schools within the next five years.

This indicates the department’s lack of commitment to eradicating asbestos schools in the province and that it cares little about the health and safety of both learners and teachers.

For the longest time, the DA has been putting pressure on the department to eradicate asbestos schools in the province. We have tabled several oral and written questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature. We have also tabled a motion on school infrastructure demanding that the department eradicate all asbestos schools in the province. We note that the MEC makes promises from time to time. We will continue to press him to fulfil his promises.

The DA will be tabling written questions to both MECs for Education and DID to ascertain the reason why the construction has been stalled at this school.

We will continue to hold MEC Lesufi accountable to ensure that all asbestos schools and classrooms are eradicated before the end of his term in office so that children from across the province can have a suitable environment to learn and grow. The DA will also be conducting oversight inspections of all the asbestos schools across the province that have been identified to be replaced to ascertain the progress and the challenges faced.