Mkhize paints gloomy picture over KZN classroom backlogs

KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Zweli Mkhize painted a gloomy picture of classroom shortages in the province.

Delivering his state of the province address yesterday, Mkhize said backlogs were huge. He said based on the 2007 National Education Infrastructure Management System data, the province was short of 10898 ordinary classrooms.

"On top of that, there is a backlog of 11525 specialist classrooms, 4000 Grade R classrooms, 3348 computer rooms, 3315 media centres, 14000 school administration offices and 30028 toilets," he said.

Mkhize said it was evident that the massive amounts of resources necessary to adequately address the backlogs are not possible to mobilise within the next five years.

He said given current budget trends over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, 8750 classrooms, 15000 toilets and 30 schools are planned for the next five years, with the construction of 15 schools scheduled to begin this year.

Mkhize said due to harsh economic situation faced by government, it would be vital for the private sector to assist.

He also announced that 610000 children would be exempted from paying school fees, meaning that 1,7million children are now exempt from paying school fees in KwaZulu-Natal.

Mkhize said they were going to improve the quality of education and especially matriculation pass rate in mathematics in the next five years.

"For the province to make any meaningful strides in the fields of engineering, science and technology, it has to increase the output of pupils who take maths and science."

He said the training of teachers in maths and science has to be fast-tracked to address the dearth of qualified teachers in our schools.