Bid to remove asbestos schools
Provincial department of education has made budgetary provisions for necessary intervention at the schools
THE Gauteng department of education is making moves to remove all asbestos schools in the province including Ditau Primary School in Orlando East.
This after children’s parents called for the demolition of the school as it posed a health risk for the pupils and the teachers.
The parents said the school, which was on the brink of collapse, worried them every day when they sent their children there.
Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said they were exploring ways to add mobile classrooms to the school as an interim solution.
“The Gauteng department of education has made budgetary provisions for a necessary intervention at the school. We have a plan to eradicate all asbestos schools in Gauteng and Ditau is one of them,” Mabona said.
“The project to build a brick and mortar school is presently in the design phase and once completed will go through the procurement process accordingly.”
On Tuesday, The New Age published a story about the state of the school after student teachers called for the department’s intervention.
The teachers in training said it was difficult to do their work with the constant fear of the roof collapsing hanging over their heads. The leaking roofs at the school also made it hard to teach and took up their time as the pupils often had to spend time cleaning up the water after heavy downpours.
The school is one 29 asbestos schools earmarked for rebuilding.
The department has undertaken to fix all schools built of asbestos by 2020.
In the 201617 financial year the asbestos schools planned for replacement were reduced from 17 to two because the budget was directed to another project.
In the next financial year, 13 asbestos schools were listed as top priority but the number was later reduced to six due to delays in finalising the prototype design.
The use and trading of asbestos was banned in South Africa in 2008.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Health, the inhalation of asbestos fibre into the lungs leads to diseases and takes 15 to 50 years from first contact with the fibre for the disease to develop.
During that dormant period, no symptoms are experienced and when the disease is diagnosed it is usually fatal.
Asbestos inhalation leads to serious lung infections including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, a malignant and fatal tumour that grows on the lining of the lungs.
Education advocacy group Equal Education has long been calling for the eradication of schools built of asbestos.
The organisation said it was inhumane to continue risking the health of pupils, teachers, school administrative staff and the school community by their continued exposure to asbestos.
IMPENDING DISASTER: Ditau Primary school in Orlando West should have asbestos removed soon.