The Department of Education has set aside R800m to build new schools in “high-demand areas” of Gauteng. “The department’s total infrastructure budget includes new and replacement schools, additional classrooms at existing schools and land acquisition for building new schools,” said Panyaza Lesufi, Provincial Education MEC. The notion to build these schools stemmed from parents who perceive schools in urban areas to have better standards than those in townships.
According to Lesufi “Among others, parents believe that schools in the suburbs provide a better education than the schools in the townships, looking at matric results, this perception had been debunked, with some of the province’s top performers coming out of township schools. The department has decided to channel most of the budget to build new schools in the suburbs. However, Lesufi 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 has engaged with independent schools to accommodate parents who could afford the fees.
He notes that 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.
In “high-demand areas” where there is land to build, the department will be spending money to build state-of-the-art schools.