KZN education department to pay R30m to bail out schools with outstanding water and electricity bills

The KZN education department will pay R30m to settle the outstanding water and electricity bills of some schools.
The KZN education department will pay R30m to settle the outstanding water and electricity bills of some schools.
Image: Pixabay.com

The KwaZulu-Natal department of education is set to pay R30-million to the eThekwini municipality to bail out schools with outstanding municipal bills.

In a statement on Tuesday, the department said it was concerned by the increasing number of schools which owed municipalities exorbitant amounts for water and electricity.

“In 2019, the department provided some relief to some schools, over and above the norms and standards, where a total of R48m was paid to eThekwini municipality alone. A further R30m is going to be paid this year to those schools whose norms and standards are too low and are genuinely unable to pay,” said the department.

They noted that many of the affected schools were in communities with high numbers of illegal water and electricity connections. They said the most-affected schools were in the Umlazi and Pinetown districts, which fall under the eThekwini municipality.

The department also said that although there were instances where schools could not afford to pay, in some cases the bills were high because of poor school management.

“The department urges school principals to exercise sound management practices and not to allow a situation where bills are not paid on time because this irresponsible behaviour by some principals leads to the disruption of teaching and learning when municipalities decide to cut their services,” they said.

The statement comes after it emerged last week that learners at Georgetown High in Edendale, outside Pietermaritzburg, were sent home after the Msunduzi municipality cut off the school's water supply.

According to the municipality, the school had racked up a R2m water bill, and last made payment in April 2018.

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