R800m set aside to build schools in 'high-demand' suburbs of Gauteng
The Gauteng department of education has set aside nearly R800m to build new schools in "high-demand areas" of the province this year.
This is as parents continue to perceive schools in urban areas to have better standards than those in townships.
Provincial education MEC Panyaza Lesufi revealed this in a written reply to a question asked by DA MPL Khume Ramulifho.
Lesufi said 68 schools in Gauteng's suburbs were so popular this year that each received more than 1,000 applications, while 148 township schools had received less than 40 applications.
Some of the "high-demand" schools are in Boksburg, Kempton Park, Midrand, Centurion, Pretoria and Roodepoort.
"The issues regarding high and low demand are, inter alia, based on perceptions of parents and the public in general on what they perceive to be quality education," said Lesufi.
"Among others, parents believe that schools in the suburbs provide better education than the schools in the townships."
Lesufi said looking at matric results, this perception had been debunked, with some of the province's top performers coming out of township schools.
Be that as it may, Lesufi will channel most of his school infrastructure budget to build new schools in the suburbs.
However, he said this may be a challenge in some areas as there is no space to build new schools, despite the high demand. In such instances, the department had engaged with independent schools to accommodate parents who could afford the fees.
In "high-demand areas" where there is land to build, the department will be spending money to build state-of-the-art schools.
"The department's total infrastructure budget for the 2020-21 financial year that is set aside to build new schools and classrooms in high demand areas is R787m," said Lesufi.
"This budget includes new and replacement schools, additional classrooms at existing schools and land acquisition for building new schools."