Western Cape school infrastructure revised plan & budget

Education (WCPP)

13 October 2020
Chairperson: Ms L Botha (DA)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Standing Committee on Education, 13 October 2020

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) noted that the July 2020 Covid-19 related budget meant R485 million was cut from the 2020/21 schools infrastructure and maintenance budget. This was a large amount that had required much consideration before being cut. In addition, delays in school construction had occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. The Level 5 lockdown meant all construction had stopped. At Level 4 from 1 May 2020, only certain works could resume. Corrective maintenance was permitted from 26 May. From Level 3 lockdown on 4 June 2020, preventive maintenance projects were allowed to continue.

Nine replacement school projects were planned for completion in 2020/21. Four of the nine projects have achieved first phase completion of building facilities, with site works to follow as second phase. The remaining five projects are planned to achieve completion of first phase building facilities only in 2020/21.

For 2020/21, 131 maintenance projects had originally been planned. Due to the impact of Covid-19, 95 had been postponed due to budget cut constraints. The remaining 36 projects had been projected to commence or continue construction during 2020/21.

WCED said projections for the next two years were fraught with risks due to pandemic uncertainty.

Members asked about the assessment criteria used to determine which projects were postponed. Members asked questions about how these postponements delayed specific school projects such as the Nomzamo School in Strand. They asked about new schools that were presenting with a number of latent defects such as Crestway Secondary School and how WCED dealt with this problem. It was decided to conduct an oversight visit to the school.

Members asked about the dampening effect the postponed projects would have on job creation for the surrounding community and its local economy as the contractors were obliged to use local labour, suppliers, artisans and manufacturers.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said that the presentation would be made by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and the Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) would be on hand to answer questions. He welcomed the Chairperson of the Standing Committee of Public Works and Transport.

Western Cape schools infrastructure
Mr Liam Thiel, WCED Chief Director: Education Infrastructure, said the presentation had been prepared and agreed upon with Public Works. Figures represented combined numbers from both departments with slightly different perspectives:

Impact of Covid-19 on delay in construction work
Schools had closed from 15 March 2020 and the initial Level 5 Lockdown had been from 26 March. All school construction happening had had to cease to comply with the regulations. At Lockdown Level 4 (from 1 May 2020) works could resume, summarised as follows:
• All Projects implemented by DTPW building new and replacement schools, and upgrades and additions.
• Corrective maintenance projects on sites operated by WCED as of 26 May. (Preventative maintenance projects remained in abeyance).
• At Lockdown Level 3 from 4 June 2020 WCED confirmed consent to DTPW to proceed with other construction projects enabling preventive maintenance projects to continue.

Nine replacement school projects were planned for completion in 2020/21:
Crestway Secondary School in Retreat, Diaz Primary School in Mossel Bay, Harmony Primary School in Steenberg, Kwafaku Primary School in Philippi, Petersen Primary School in Kylemore, Panorama Primary School two in Vredenburg, Sunray Primary School in Delft, Willows Primary School in Heideveld, and Woodlands Primary School in Heideveld.

To date, four of those projects had achieved first phase of completion of building facilities with site work to follow as second phase: Crestway (December 2019), Kwafaku (June 2020), Woodlands (June 2020) and Diaz (August 2020). The remaining five schools were planned for completion during 2020/21 financial year for the first phase of building, the second phase would follow afterwards. The schools were: Panorama (October 2020), Sunray (November 2020), Harmony (December 2020), Willows (January 2021) and Petersen (March 2021).

Impact of Covid-19 on preventative maintenance projects for 2020/21
131 projects had been planned for 2020/21
95 had been postponed due to subsequent budget constraints.
36 projects were currently planned to commence/continue with construction in 2020/2021.

Impact of Covid-19 on adjusted budget
Adjustment Budget tabled in July 2020:
Appropriation for Infrastructure Development: R1.748 bn.
Adjusted Appropriation (R344m reduction): R1.404bn.

Allocation for DTPW-implemented projects:
Initial allocation to DTPW-implemented projects: R1.194bn.
Adjusted allocation (R193m reduction): R1.001bn.

Budget Replacement School Programme:
DTPW Expenditure Projection 2020/21 R257m 100% (estimation no risk scenario)
WCED budget allocation 2020/21 R141.85m. 50% (high risk scenario).

Budget Allocations for Replacement School and Maintenance:
Pre-Covid budget for maintenance: R762,255,000
Pre-Covid budget for replacement schools: R652,431,000
Total: R1,001,755,000

Post-Covid budget for maintenance: R652,431,000
Post-Covid budget for replacement schools: R141,850,000
Total: R794,281,000

Impact of Covid-19 on construction works – and budgetary implications
The cancelled replacement school projects were:
Rio Grande School (Manenberg Metro Central) , Manenberg Primary School (Metro Central) , Ocean View School LSEN (Ocean View Metro South), Uitsig Primary School (Uitsig Metro North), Laurie Hugo Primary School (Uitsig), Pacatsdorp Secondary School (Uitsig), Montagu Gift Primary School (Uitsig), Imkanini Primary School (Uitsig), De Waalville Primary School (Uitsig), Manenberg Metro Central (Uitsig), Ocean View Metro South (Uitsig), Uitsig Metro North (Uitsig).

Mr Thiel said information on School Infrastructure for 2021/22 and 2022/23 was risk-related and there were many risks that had to be considered.

Impact of Covid-19 on construction works - Risks going forward:
• Additional costs for implementing Covid-19 regulations on sites (PPE, screening)
• Delayed projects due to observing Level 5 Lockdown regulations
• Reduced productivity due to Covid-19 screening and social distancing
• Additional costs associated with materials in short supply (price increases)
• Strained manufacturing and supply of building materials due to ad-hoc shutdowns for Covid-19 prescripts
• Due to current high volatility and uncertainty, forecasting expenditure was strained – mitigation was to shift funding to programmes where there is adequate flexibility adequate flexibility to rapidly implement short duration corrective maintenance projects.

Mr Salie Abrahams, WCED Deputy Director-General for Infrastructure, provided additional input. The presentation was solely founded on the response to Covid-19 and the immediate information shared within that context. The infrastructure budget had been re-prioritised to allocate more money to emergency and corrective maintenance, intended to cover emergency responses to vandalism or the storm damage of July 2020, and any other emergency safety provisions subsequent to bringing children back to school. The Department continued to reflect on the financial uncertainty and what that might imply for infrastructure planning.

Mr Abrahams said he would be happy together with his colleague Ms McGlen, WCED Chief Director for Infrastructure, to talk about their forward planning. At the Budget and Annual Performance Plan 24 July meeting, Mr Abrahams suggested that deferment or postponement did not mean cancellation. The typical process of delivering on current year commitments was maintained, and they continued to adjust and reflect on the timing of delivery of projects planned to be completed in 2020/21. He would be happy to take questions on that.

Mr Bosman (DA) asked what the process was once an infrastructure build had been completed. What was the procedure for inspection and quality control, and how was that communicated to the Department?

Mr Thiel replied that contact with the contractor was managed by WCED professional and internal teams. There was also a maintenance period in contracts holding the contractor liable for any latent defects not apparent at the time of completion. This would usually be reported by the school to the Circuit’s Region to WCED Head Office for it to attend to the problem and correct it. After the maintenance period, another inspection would be undertaken by professional service providers, together with the internal teams, usually the Circuit and District Managers of Education would attend as well as the WCED Infrastructure Team. In the case where there were further defects, information would go to the Head Office - that would be Ms McGlen’s Unit which works closely with Mr Thiel’s Unit. Those repairs could be caused by a construction fault, vandalism or severe weather conditions like storms and would be handled accordingly.

Mr R Allen (DA) understood the impact Covid-19 had had on construction and the associated risks, but asked about the 95 preventative maintenance projects that had originally been planned and since been postponed. He asked how and on what basis decisions to postpone had been taken.

Mr F Christians (ACDP) asked about the professional team checking for defects. Sometimes principals fight with service providers about deficient work, he asked how those principals get involved with unsatisfactory work complaints. Secondly, he inquired about the provenance of the contractors, as apparently some of them were not local but based outside the province. This made it difficult to contact them should defects arise.

Mr K Sayed (ANC) noted that Covid-19 had made it difficult to implement projects. However, what was the condition of those postponed schools and when would the projects be resumed? The Department had a standard policy mechanism for monitoring the work of contractors. He gave the example of Paul Gedenk School in Wellington, visited by the Committee, where the work done by a particular contractor had been poor. WCED said that was the responsibility of the Department of Public Works. There were many similar situations where the Department and contractors argued as to who should take responsibility for poor work. What mechanisms were in place to thoroughly monitor the implementation of work by a contractor. What was the role of WCED when it came to infrastructure projects - how do the two departments work where it came to implementation and construction. On safety infrastructure, specifically school fences, he suggested that safety specification standards should be procured for school fencing infrastructure. In the 2020 Premier’s State of the Province Address, there had been a promise to erect fences at 30 schools. He asked if that project had been completed and requested updates on the matter.

Ms N Nkondlo (ANC) said the Nomzamo School in Strand had been promised new infrastructure, but had not featured in the presentation. She remembered that during level 3 or 4 an assessment had been done by the Department and promises had been made to attend to the school which was damaged by a storm. She wondered when that would be accomplished. Kuafaku School in Philippi had previously been unsuccessfully replaced with alternative building material. She asked if the full completion date of June 2020 as noted in the presentation had been achieved. She wished to know when the school would be finished and handed over to the community. Slide No 14 showed that the maintenance budget had dropped which may be related to the Covid regulations that had to be adhered to. She asked what impact there had been on maintenance pressures in schools, and the implications from a budget standpoint. The Covid situation had caused a high unemployment rate, communities had lost jobs and people would be looking for jobs in their communities. She wondered who the service providers would be and how they would be appointed. She asked about the level of adherence to 30% local participation, especially now that members of community were demanding local subcontracting and jobs. The postponement had dire consequences.

The Chairperson reminded the Committee about the Lentegeur School visit in June 2020. Builders had been digging to lay new pipes for the toilets, but there had been a risk that the perimeter of the hall would collapse. The Chairperson requested an update on this. Following unrest in Milnerton's Joe Slovo Park resulting in damage to Marconi Primary School and Sinenjongo High School, she asked for the current status of that infrastructure. She asked if during the Covid period there had been schools without running water or proper sanitation and what improvements could be made. Mr Thiel spoke about the possible impact of delays on infrastructure projects taking into account the migration of learners from other provinces. He wondered about the contingency plans attached to such migration, including the possibility that the completion dates might not materialise. Mr Abrahams was welcome to reply to that question.

WCED response
Mr Thiel replied to Mr Allen that the assessment criteria for stopping the 95 projects took into consideration the state of the building. WCED tried to identify the critical elements which could cause school functioning to be compromised and affect the ability for education to continue uninterruptedly. Prioritised were electricity, water supply, sewage, roofing (no water leaks), and items that might cause physical harm or injury. An example of a lesser priority would be painting, and a higher priority would be electricity. This had been discussed with DBE which allocated limited funding accordingly. In terms of how the specific schools had been identified, Mr Thiel said he would ask the Department if they would want to provide further explanation on that.

Mr Thiel replied that the arguments about construction defects that often occurred on sites were due to the high level of interest of school governing bodies in matters of school infrastructure new projects that replaced old facilities. These matters were handled by means of contracts, and WCED was responsible for procuring contracts with professional service providers (PSPs) who designed and prepared tender documentation and assisted with evaluation of the tender, after which WCED through its supply chain unit proceeded to evaluate the tender and decide on an award. The contracts were managed by WCED’s professional service providers under their own direction; the contractor then had to oblige according to the scope of the contract. Ideally that would have been perfect but in reality this had not been the case. On each site there were two weekly meetings. Before completion, inspections of specific types of work were done. Alternatively, sampling would be required, meaning samples of items erected would be considered by the WCED team and Public Works.

Mr Thiel confirmed that education representatives for that particular project attended those meetings, and there usually would also be a representative from the Education Department. Once the samples were approved the contractors were required to deliver the work according to these standards. If any work during the two weekly meetings was identified as unsatisfactory, instructions were issued in terms of the contract for the work to be remedied. For latent defects that become apparent later, the contract allowed fixes to be applied during the maintenance period. There was also a 10-year guarantee for substandard work, material and components not complying with the specifications in the tender document. Those were usually followed up ad hoc by schools bringing the problem to WCED’s attention. Following that, WCED made its own inspections, and followed up with the PSP and contractors by issuing instructions based on the contracts. The expectations of all those parties might not be exactly the same but they reverted back to the contract provisions, as well as the responsibilities of various departments and officials, in terms of accountability. Mr Thiel’s office ran the contracts and WCED had the responsibility of managing them as their implementing agent.

The supply chain management process was indeed a competitive process which was open and free for all contenders in the province and the region as well as in RSA. The preference points took into account the location of the contractors, and proximity added to their points. The highest scoring contractor in terms of BEE principles usually got awarded the contract. There had rarely been exceptions except in the case of higher risk of non-delivery. WCED had had a number of contracts where contractors had been deployed from other parts of the country and there had successful delivery. However, that was not the general norm; the tender process required awarding to local companies because they were competitive, and usually did the work at lower prices.

Mr Thiel replied about the condition of the schools where projects had been postponed. Those schools were in obvious need of replacement but with its notification system for defects, WCED had managed to keep them functioning and able to be occupied even though they were not ideal to continue indefinitely. It would be important to finish building as soon as possible in terms of the contracts, so the old schools could be demolished and the projects completed.

Its control and monitoring mechanism, as mentioned earlier, there were the two weekly visits to sites, when particular types of work were being done. Mr Thiel agreed that even with that mechanism, some items might slip through, and they would always return to the contractor demanding execution of the contract.

The role of Mr Thiel's unit was to receive the technical needs from Ms McGlen and implement those in the design, specifications, tender documentation, procurement and the construction on site, managing it through its maintenance period and be on stand-by should anything go wrong.

On school safety fencing programme, Mr Thiel said the Department of Education would be able to answer that.

Mr Thiel replied that the damage at Nomzamo High School in Strand had been fixed within one week and the occupation of the school had again been possible. The current situation was stable and the school was indeed functioning. The reasons for the problem had been severe weather conditions and not substandard work. Buildings were not completely safe from extreme weather conditions, especially mobile classrooms that could not be compared to permanent structures. On a permanent solution for Nomzamo School, Mr Thiel believed that the Department of Education would answer that question particularly in terms of prioritisation and the probability of funding in the future. The Kwafaku School had been occupied in June 2020 but the second phase of completing site work and getting it ready was continuing. It was a particularly difficult site, being small and needing to be done in a number of phases.

Referring to Slide 14 showing the reduced maintenance budgets, he confirmed that this had indeed been a cause for concern. However, they would be agile and resilient in keeping existing facilities functioning and safe for educational purposes. Economic activity would always be a high priority for local communities especially where there was poverty and a high level of need caused by the pandemic. They were continuing with the objectives of job and employment creation. That was done by studies of empowerment impact assessment. Targets were identified and those were all contained in the projects and were tightly controlled by means of contractual obligations held by the contractor. There had been close collaboration with the project steering committee in which community members had assisted in the identification of individuals who would get benefit from jobs and employment. He agreed that hopes and needs were much higher than what could be delivered. The scheme was working quite well even though dissatisfaction flared up quite often, affecting progress on site. Such situations needed to be carefully managed.

Ms Leslie McGlen, WCED Chief Director for Infrastructure, said she would answer the question for the Department of Education and ask Mr Abrahams to supplement. She explained how the two departments collaborate. DTPW dealt with contracts and contractual matters. WCED was the face of education and liaised with schools and between schools and DTPW. WCED tried to facilitate the link, to prevent schools from getting into arguments as mentioned earlier. WCED dealt with Public Works on behalf of the school, listening to the school and dealing with any queries that may come up. The WCED Unit would be the middle man between the school and Public Works.

Ms McGlen replied about fencing and confirmed there was an existing five year plan for fencing. Of the 30 fencing projects for 2020/21, it was confirmed that all 30 projects for 2020/21 were on track. They tried to keep a long term view to stabilise the budget and reduce volatility, but that was not easy as the future could not be predicted. Of those 30 projects, 27 were near completion and three were underway, to be finished by March 2021. Unfortunately it would be impossible to guarantee that the fencing projects for 2021/22 would still happen; that was under review.

On the Nomzamo School mobile classrooms, Ms McGlen answered that the permanent school, although slightly delayed, was still on the cards. The problem was there was another school under construction there, and pupils from the mobile school had been allowed to apply to the other school due to the high level of need in that area. It was uncertain if the mobile school could be eradicated as there was a risk of unplaced learners. The situation was critical. However construction of the permanent school had not been cancelled and the outlook was hopeful. On Kuafaku School, Ms McGlen replied that the school was occupied and that the sports field being built there would be completed in the current year.

On the 95 postponed projects, Ms McGlen explained the selection criteria for choosing which project was postponed. The total money withdrawn from the budget was R485m, a large amount that had required much consideration before being cut. Of the preventative maintenance projects happening, it was decided to defer those to 2021. The projects had not commenced and had been deferred to 2021 along with the other replacement schools. There was a balance between growth, accommodating new learners in 2021, the condition of the schools and the replacement of schools. No choice was easy when cutting the budget.

Questions on communities had been answered by Mr Thiel. She reiterated that there had been severe delays. Stofland School in De Doorns was an example of such a delay; the beginning had been very difficult, as communities had been making demands. In a similar vein Welesteen Primary School had been delayed because of land invasions, and there had been a need to wait for the City to relocate the land invaders before school construction could resume. It was necessary, she said, to adopt a human approach to the problem while remaining strict on delivering construction so that the learners could have the infrastructure they deserved to have. The same applied to the Grabouw School project where people had job expectations, especially during the difficult Covid times. Jobs, she said, were also on the agenda and were the goal of the provinces as well as the delivery of built schools.
On the Lentegeur School, Ms McGlen replied that while the wall had collapsed, it had been replaced by a new one and a new sewage pipe had been successfully installed. As for the Jongo and Marconi Beam Schools, vandalism had indeed taken occurred there and no replacements had been made because of financial strictures. However a donor was being sought to donate a hall and contribute, so that repairs could be done. The Marconi case was being rescheduled for a maintenance project. The Chairperson had also asked if there had been any school during the Covid pandemic that had not had running water. Ms McGlen responded that there had been many cases and challenges, and focused on three particular schools that had been awaiting permanent water connections. During that difficult time the solution taken by WCED had been to provide the schools with water tanks filled with water. Out of the three schools two now had permanent water connections. One of them was still being in process of having permanent water connections. She pointed out that it was a challenging task and that anyone present who could assist with municipality involvement would be welcome in that regard.

Mr Salie Abrahams acknowledged that the Western Cape school infrastructure system was in rapid decline. This asset base was deemed by DTPW as R75bn needing maintenance, and they were not close to the prescribed numbers of projects maintenance activities that needed to be done. Within that context Covid had put DTPW in the position of having to find more relevant strategies to address the need. Even before the Covid lockdown, scheduled maintenance projects for tackling low budget projects had already been reduced. Critical components were roofs, electricity and plumbing, and any other components supporting the functionality of schooling. This explained the frustration of school principals and their wish for broader, less limited maintenance regimes.

Mr Abrahams emphasised that the immediate need of schools was water and sanitation, which received serious attention by providing water supplies to all schools. Mobile schools were obviously not a sustainable arrangement and DTPW was ensuring that permanent schools projects were being completed accordingly. There were still 75 schools built with inappropriate material hence the replacement school agenda continued to occupy the minds of WCED and DTPW.

The implications were that they continued fencing schools and providing new assets, continuing to prioritise the projects that were already begun to create classroom space for 2021. They were confident in their ability to deliver.

Mr Bosman asked if the build for Crestway Secondary School was assumed to have been completed or not as well as whether all maintenance checks had been done.

Ms McGlen replied that Crestway Secondary School had only recently been completed, so all maintenance procedures had not yet expired, and some of the snags were still being checked. The project had reached practical but not final completion.

Mr Thiel added that final completion was wrapping up the sites, and they were now busy dealing with the administration of payments, which would take an additional three months during which any defects could be attended to. With practical completion, the schools are safely functional.

Ms Nkondlo asked if Nomzamo School was on the cards for permanent schooling or not. She asked about the management of job creation in communities with the outbreak of Covid-19. She was sure that there was indeed a commitment to engage with job creation, but asked what the actual measures were now that the country was on Level 1 restrictions. What would be the ways to deal with the pressures of unemployment within communities?

Mr Thiel replied that the timelines for Nomzamo would be better answered by DTPW . On the joblessness, the same principles applied. There would be no additional jobs or poverty alleviation programmes being initiated and funded by Education. Any funding for labour would place more pressure on the Infrastructure budget. It was however understandable that the job needs in the communities were dire.

Ms McGlen replied that giving a timeframe for Nomzamo School would be difficult at this stage. Budget-wise, right now the school is listed as planned, and because the site is a big one, more than one school is planned for that site. There were still many things to be done so WCED would deliver the work in phases such as junior school phase and senior school phase. In the current situation, nothing on that site would be completed until at least 2023. If the budget was not affected they could do that in bigger chunks but there was a budgetary approach to the project. In 2020, 27 schools had been completed, and 30 more were planned in 2021, but there might be even bigger budget cuts. She did not wish to make too many statements on this as the situation is monitored closely and there may be partial changes as the project went ahead. However she had tried to be as transparent as possible.

Mr Sayed said there was a church in Herold that had within its precincts the Franken Primary School. The church had taken the decision to sell the property. Had WCED taken steps to respond to that problem, and would it take up the offer to buy the property. He referred to overcrowding of schools during the pandemic and asked if WCED had contingency plans for that.

Mr Abrahams replied about the Franken Primary School sale that DTPW had indeed offered to buy it. The area had another school and the Franken site was quite small and thus had limitations. He could not confirm if the offer would be accepted. He would have an answer within the next few weeks as things were moving very fast.

On overcrowding at schools during Covid, from a health safety context it was important to review and revise education plans. Going forward the way to reduce pressure particularly in Metro East would be to reduce the numbers of pupils per class. Expanding existing schools would be another solution. The first priority was to make a healthy and safe infrastructure for the learners. They were guided on a district to district basis. Contingency planning was done for teaching and learning especially in areas like Grabouw where there were big enrolments. Expanding existing schools with more classroom capacity was now in their analysis unit. Availability of land could be a problem so they were looking more deeply at existing schools and expanding them. That would be the strategy to relieve learner pressure.

The Chairperson said the Committee had visited Mandlenkosi Secondary School and she asked if it was on Mr Abrahams’ list for mobile classrooms due to Covid regulations. The school had been utilising the church opposite for extra classrooms. She also asked if Eucharist school was on his list.

Mr Abrahams replied that he would need to confirm for both schools. There were already 140 schools needing mobile classroom where pressure needed to be relieved. Within the area of those two schools there were indeed many mobile schools awaiting pressure relief, and allocations for 2021 were being finalised. The Committee would be able to have that list of schools and the list would be published. Teachers and pupils deserved to work in healthy spaces. In such dire circumstances, space needs to be and would be created.

The Chairperson said mention was made of schools without water supply and he asked for a list.

Ms McGlen listed Washington Drive Primary School, Sunridge Circle Primary School and Fairdale Primary School. At Sunridge right now the water connection was in progress, while the other two had already had their connection sorted out.

Mr Bosman asked what were considered priority items when it came to assessment of infrastructure after a new school was completed. Using Crestway School as an example, he asked if such items included leaks when it rained, cracks in walls and floors, door handles breaking, and overflowing gutters?

Mr Thiel acknowledged all these snags, saying that all the matters relating to design were covered by the contract and would get the necessary attention. The Education Department was addressing the problem through the contractor with the assistance of the Project Steering Committee (PSC) responsible for design and specification under Education Department's guidance and control.

Ms Nkondlo asked if it would be possible to obtain the reports of engagements with communities. She wondered if based on socio-economic benefits there would be a policy review at local level. She asked if those projects were being followed by WCED or DTPW or both. She also asked about manufacturing during the pandemic and about the future of alternative building technologies (ABTs). Kuafaku School construction moved from ABT to brick and mortar. This question also related to climate change. There should be a percentage of adopting ABT for schools. She asked specifically about manufacturing capacity in spite of the closing down of the economy caused by Covid, and if there had been a discussion about ABT for school infrastructure.

Mr Thiel replied that there were currently discussions about the standardisation of design of various construction systems. But it did come with risks and the best was to pilot it rather than rolling out on broad scale. It was important to allow it to pass the test of time. They did have teams dealing with the CSIR unit on ABT. However, Ms McGlen and himself had not yet identified specific cases and budgets for implementation, but were still at the research and investigation stage. The permanent education environment should indeed be made sustainable.

Mr Thiel did not want to create the wrong impression about the engagement of communities when he referred to the PSC body created on all construction projects to enable the contractor and WCED to follow the targeted objectives of job creation and employment. They did not deal with any additional needs; nor were there any other programmes identified for job creation. Currently there was no additional programme, under consideration or deployed for further employment, other than those already defined in current contracts and the obligations that are shared with contractors to employ local labour, suppliers, artisans, and manufacturers.

Ms McGlen added that there was no specific action on engagements with communities. Job creation was done as contracts progressed on the building site.

The Chairperson then mentioned an oversight visit done by herself and her team to a high school. There she and her team had received a report by the Principal of the School about a maintenance project that had been abandoned by the contractor, who had left the site in the middle of the project. The Chairperson wanted to know, how many cases like that had occurred in the past two financial years and what the occurring losses were in Rand value. She asked what should to be done in such cases if there had ever been a time when the money was successfully recovered. Ms McGlen responded as she had previously done some work on that issue. She explained that indeed such situations had occurred in the past but it was impossible to trace how many times; however she would be willing to work on the numbers and submit that report to the Chairperson. On that, she explained that when such situations occurred the contractor was only paid for work he had completed and would not be paid for unfinished work.

Mr Sayed thanked Mr Abrahams for his responses and went onto check a few things. Firstly, if a school closed down was it possible to move the learners to another school nearby? Secondly, citing Mr Abrahams, the Department had been engaging with the community and stakeholders but no decision yet had been taken. He asked if closure could be obtained and if that would lead to the actual closing of the school. Mr Abrahams responded by saying that there were two aspects in that conversation and that at the moment the level of conversation was still very technical, having to do with infrastructure issues. The main issue was then to figure out how to implement continuity of learning in that area. The conversation around the stakeholder engagement was around the sale.

Mr Christians entered the debate, mentioning what Chairperson and Mr Sayed had said about extra mobile classrooms. He emphasized the case of Eucharist School. Their problem was not extra classrooms but the need to build an extra school in Mossel Bay especially amongst the Hessequa community. Mr Christians and his team had visited the place twice and had noticed that whenever the weather was not convenient 50% of the class did not attend school that day because transport was too costly. He asked if the Department would be willing to build another school in the area as the one was already very full.

The Chairperson asked Ms McGlen if it was possible to take up Mr Abrahams’ questions as his connection had cut off and he was no longer connected online into the meeting. She then provided answers. She said that there was a high school in the budget; planning would start in the middle year of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for a high school in Mossel Bay so such a project was on its way, though not finalized. The high school would be a technical high school. That answered the question from Mr Christians. As for the question of Mr Sayed, Chairperson suggested that they would put the question in the recommendations as Mr Abrahams’ connection was still not re-established.

The Chairperson asked for recommendations.

Mr Bosman requested that the Committee make an unannounced visit to Crestway Secondary School to check on the first phase, and the different stages of repairs still to be done there.

This was agreed to and would probably happen in November.

Mr Christians made the following recommendation on the Mossel Bay High School. It was important that the school be located in the right place therefore the community should be asked its opinion on the best place. Secondly, it was important to get as much information as possible about the project schools such as Hillcrest School. It was urgent that the right school be built and not just any type of school.

Mr Sayed declared himself satisfied about his questions about Franken Primary School had been handled.

Ms Nkondlo requested a list of all schools that were still on the replacement schools agenda so as to follow the case of the Nomzamo School in Strand. A second list would be welcomed about the DTPW PSP framework for the building of new schools and maintenance of schools. Any policy or guidelines on local beneficiation during construction or maintenance of schools would be welcomed.

The Procedural Officer compiled the recommendations in writing.

The meeting was adjourned.


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