100 new schools to be constructed countrywide
THE Government has embarked on a project to construct 100 new schools in the country, with topographical surveys already underway at different sites.
The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Lazarus Dokora told The Chronicle that categories for the schools are: small schools with an expected enrolment of up to 500 pupils; medium schools with an enrolment of up to 1 000 pupils as well as large schools with a capacity of 1 600 pupils. The construction project would be based on models that have been developed by the Education Ministry as well as the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
Dr Dokora said the building of the schools would start soon after the completion of the topographical surveys and the process of shortlisting private partners.
“Topographical surveys are underway for the first 100 school sites dotted around the country. These are key enablers for construction work. Once complete, with private companies signed on, the construction project will begin, “he said.
“Adverts were done and we’re in the processes of appointing consultants and shortlisting private partners. Processes and procedures of tendering must be fulfilled and there should be no shortcuts. The private partners will fund the construction of schools and hand them over to the Ministry upon completion under a Build and Transfer arrangement.”
The Minister said while commendable efforts have been made by Government to provide school infrastructure to cater for the unprecedented increase in enrolment, the existing infrastructure remains inadequate and for some pupils, it is unsafe and not conducive to quality learning.
Dr Dokora said Government would pay meticulous attention to the type and quality of materials to be used during construction.
“Design specifications will be accessible to all partners in order to ensure that all structures are durable, secure and fit for purpose,” he said.
The Minister said 17 satellite schools would be built under the $20 million grant from the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).
He said a financial advisor to the Ministry has been appointed to assist in the administration of the Funds from the OPEC Fund.
The loan facility, the Minister added, would be repaid over 15 years with a five-year grace period.
The Minister said the grant triggered great support as many foreign and local companies had expressed interest in partnering with the Government.
The government has embarked on the project at a time when the country is faced with a deficit of 2 056 schools.
Dr Lazarus Dokora