Government is stepping up the gear in the provision of technologically advanced schools to ensure the cultivation of much-needed skills.
This much was evident in one of three schools officially opened by President Cyril Ramaphosa in Dannhauser on Wednesday. Enhlanhleni Primary School was officially opened with two others, Lembe Primary and Ingweni Phaphama, in the Amajuba and Zululand District Municipalities.
At the Enhlanhleni Primary School, President Ramaphosa was introduced to the school's technologically equipped classrooms that include smart boards and learning tablets for learners across all grades.
The schools are beneficiaries of the Department of Basic Education's Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI), whose objective is the eradication of schools without water, sanitation and electricity. ASIDI replaces schools constructed from inappropriate material. Adopt-A-School Foundation is the implementing agent of ASIDI.
The Presidency said the schools were built in response to the President's call for collaboration between government and civil society to realise the right of children to safety and dignity in educational facilities.
The schools were previously mud structures built by communities. They have been replaced with modern brick and mortar structures, with additional design elements that allow for a positive learning environment. The designs comply with current and future school requirements and complement the rural environment in which they are situated.
President Ramaphosa said the schools looked better than most he had seen in recent times.
"It's a beautiful school. Well done. What pleases me the most is that this school was built by the local community, the people who live here. That makes me very happy. This is the way we want to work. This what we are talking about when we talk about whole school development. It is about having an inclusive process of developing our schools.
"We are not just focusing on the brick and mortar of putting up a school. We are talking about a school that is holistic and well equipped to develop education for our children. It is [not just] about building an infrastructure building like this; it's about building it in such a way that it is fit for purpose."
President Ramaphosa said the three schools epitomised the government's approach to building schools of the future.
"These are the type of schools that we want to see in South Africa. I am proud that we have built this school in the deep rural areas of our country. Today I've seen how IT can be one of the best things you can have in a school. From Grade R, I have seen how young children can use technology to learn, how those children were playing around with technology."
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the government was changing the game.
"What excites me is that when we started this school, we started with Adopt-A-School because our needs are huge, yet we don't have money. People don't believe me when I say that. When I ask the MEC on the progress, he says he needs R40 billion. I tell him we don't have that amount. It's the same in the Eastern Cape when I ask them to fast-track the construction of the school."
She said it was important for the government to change the approach in this regard.
"It is important that we partner with the private sector. Not only have they built a school, but they have also saved us huge amounts of money with the methods they use in building the schools."
Motshekga said more such would be seen across the country.
Acting KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said the opening of the schools showed how the government was committed to providing quality education in quality schools. The democratic government, he said, had made major inroads since 1994, providing quality education for the previously marginalised communities.
(With Inputs from South African Government Press Release)