Estimated costs of damage to schools reaches R124 million

The storm that hit the Western Cape on Wednesday, 7 June, damaged 170 schools, according to the latest report compiled by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).  In addition, two were damaged by the inferno that engulfed the Southern Cape.

The extent of damage at each school varies but includes roof damage at 102 schools, damage to fences at 27 schools, structural damage at 14 schools and damage to mobile classrooms at 4 schools. Schools have also reported other damages which include fire damage, fallen trees and damage to electrical components. 

An estimated cost of repairs and/or replacement roughly stands at around R124 million. This figure is however not final as some schools are still being visited by various role players from the WCED and the Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) and a proper assessment of damages is being compiled. Only once we have concluded this process will a more realistic cost of damage be available.

I must take this opportunity to commend all officials from the WCED and from the DTPW for trying to initiate the repair process as quickly as possible.

I am informed that as cases were reported to the Safe Schools Directorate, the information was immediately passed onto the DTPW who sent out inspectors to visit sites and assess damages. Our priority was to make schools operational as soon as possible, where possible. Officials that visited schools immediately took action in ensuring that where possible, school sites were made safe for use so that learning and teaching can continue with limited interference.

The WCED and DTPW teams meet every third day to assess progress and discuss strategy.

I must thank Minister Donald Grant and his officials for the excellent cooperation and collaboration in dealing with this matter. 

A total of 55 schools that were visited for inspection were immediately repaired which means that learning and teaching could resume almost immediately.

The DTPW has procured contractors to execute reparation works at 27 schools and as the visits conclude today, contractors will be procured for those schools too. 

At the 4 schools where the mobile units were damaged, we are in the process of repairing or replacing these units. 

13 schools that are on leased land were damaged in the storm. The WCED and DTPW have ensured that all leased schools that reported storm damage were visited and made safe. The WCED contacted the owners to advise them of the damage and request that they make the necessary repairs be effected. The WCED will monitor this process.

In some cases, where minor damage has occurred or where damage did not affect teaching or learning at the school, the school will be advised to use their Norms & Standards Funding to do the necessary repairs.

A number of corporate donors have indicated that they are willing to offer assistance and for this we are extremely grateful. We are in the process of determining where best their support can be utilised. 

I must also thank all my officials, school principals, and teachers and in some cases parents for their support and their willingness to work with our officials in meeting these challenges positively.

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