Bid to re­move as­bestos schools

Provin­cial depart­ment of ed­u­ca­tion has made bud­getary pro­vi­sions for nec­es­sary in­ter­ven­tion at the schools

Afro Voice (Northern Cape) - - GAUTENG NEWS - LIL­LIAN SELAPISA lil­lians@the­newage.co.za

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.

PIC­TURE: THAPELO MOREBUDI

IM­PEND­ING DIS­AS­TER: Di­tau Pri­mary school in Orlando West should have as­bestos re­moved soon.

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