Government is addressing school infrastructure challenges

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says government has taken action to fast-track the provision of school infrastructure.

Motshekga briefed the media on the progress made on infrastructure roll out in the basic education sector on Sunday.

The briefing follows the Council of Education Minister (CEM) meeting held recently to discuss a number of issues affecting the sector.

Motshekga said the education sector has been working on programmes to roll out school infrastructure across the country, but the matter became even more urgent after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, as they were faced with a major overcrowding crisis that needed urgent addressing.

Motshekga said in a bid to fast-track the provision of infrastructure in the schools that are in desperate need and make them safe havens for children, the department has taken action on two fronts.

“The first is we increased the technical capacity of officials in the infrastructure team by recruiting five built environment specialists, including a head of infrastructure, who are solely focused on implementing our infrastructure projects.

“Secondly, as you are aware, the President launched the Sanitation Appropriate For Education (SAFE) initiative to specifically address the infrastructure backlog in our schools. The rapid and successful rollout of Grade R in our schools meant that just under 4000 schools were found to be lacking in either age-appropriate infrastructure, in particular, or adequate infrastructure in general,” Motshekga said.

Government has been hard at work to keep the promise the President made at the launch of the SAFE initiative, this include identifying 3 398 schools that were lacking in infrastructure in one form or another, either not age appropriate or inadequate.

“Since that time, we have delivered 2 478 projects to schools across the country [and] during this period, we had the COVID pandemic which forced the lockdown of the country and significantly impacted implementation on the ground,” Motshekga said.

The Minister commended private sector companies who responded to the President’s appeal for the corporate social investment contribution to the entire effort, highlighting that out of the number of the completed projects, 184 were allocated to donors with 117 been completed.

ASIDI

She also noted that the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) Programme, which was created to eradicate schools built from inappropriate material, in their entirety, is nearing its end in the next financial year.

“Since the launch of ASIDI, government has delivered 315 entire schools out of a target of 331, 317 electrification projects, 1 259 water projects and, to come back to the specific subject at hand, all 1 053 planned sanitation projects. You can clearly see that we have not been sitting on our laurels.

“There is a lot we can achieve whether practically or in terms of national cohesion when we all pull together. That is not to say government must not be held to account but, at the very least, we call for a modicum of objectivity,” the Minister said.

Condolences

The Minister also used the opportunity to reiterate government’s heartfelt condolences on the death of Langalam Viki whose body was found in a pit latrine at Mcwangele Junior Secondary School in the Eastern Cape.

She reported that the school where Langalam died has been provided with new South African National Standards approved infrastructure, meaning the school has new toilets.

However, Motshekga noted that there are certain questions that the department is interrogating surrounding the Langalam’s death, and invited the media to also interrogate them.

“Now, having said that, allow me to introduce a measure of controversy and I want to make absolutely sure that the media does not misrepresent my remarks. There are certain questions that we are interrogating and that we invite the media to interrogate as well,” said the Minister.

Source: South African Government News Agency

President Ramaphosa mourns passing of Ambassador Moolla

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Ambassador Moosa “Mosie” Moolla, who passed away on Saturday night at the age of 88.

Fondly remembered for his vibrancy, good humour and insight, President Ramaphosa said Mosie, as he was commonly known amongst his comrades, dedicated his entire lifetime to the fight for freedom and the construction of South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

“From a very young age, Mosie’s struggle was a selfless commitment to the liberation of the oppressed and a creation of a free, democratic society, founded on the principle of equality and human rights for all.

“The pain and suffering he endured during years of detention, treason trial and exile, away from his family has not been in vain. As we conclude marking Human Rights Month, we do so in honour to the contribution of many who perished in the quest for our freedom and to the sacrifices made by activists such as Mosie,” President Ramaphosa said in a statement on Sunday.

Following many years of dedicated activism against apartheid, Mosie was amongst a group of struggle luminaries that included Nelson Mandela, Helen Joseph, Ahmed Kathrada and Walter Sisulu, who were acquitted in March 1961 after five gruelling years of the 1956 Treason Trial.

After the promulgation of the 90-day detention law, Mosie was held in solitary confinement at the Marshal Square Police Station. He would later escape and leave the country to join the exile leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 1963.

He became a member of Umkhonto Wesizwe and received military training in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). During his exile years, Mosie represented the ANC in India, Egypt and the World Peace Council in Helsinki, Finland.

With international relations experience and contribution to the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) negotiations, Mosie was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to serve as South Africa’s Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran from 1995 to 1999.

Mosie served as High Commissioner to Pakistan from June 2000 until 2004.

Ambassador Moolla is survived by his children Tasneem, Azaad and Afzal.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Sexual and reproductive justice is everyone’s responsibility

Sexual and reproductive justice is everyone’s responsibility, says Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu.

“It is the basis for bodily autonomy, fundamental freedom, and human rights,” Zulu said.

Zulu was speaking at the closing of Sexual Reproductive Justice Conference, where she officially unveiled the second report of the High-Level Commission (HLC) on the Nairobi Summit on International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) follow-up titled ‘Sexual and reproductive justice as the vehicle to deliver the Nairobi Summit commitments.”

Zulu said the conference could not have come at a better time as the country celebrates Human Rights Month under the theme “Consolidating and Sustaining Human Rights Culture into the Future!”

She said the month’s celebrations present a space to deepen and celebrate the rights to equality, human dignity, freedom of movement and residence, language and culture, as well as the right to life.

However, she warned that we cannot afford to celebrate all these rights without reflecting on what makes sexual and reproductive justice, “a human right component that is not only important for improving the general health and wellbeing of a population but, also fundamental for achieving sustainable development.”

“The concept of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) touch base on various issues including pregnancy, childbirth, sexual orientation, bodily autonomy, agency and choice, which continue to pose various risks, especially, for vulnerable and marginalised persons in South Africa,” Zulu said.

The Minister said the conference was about reflecting on seminars held in various areas of the country’s provinces, which seeks to ensure that the marginalised and vulnerable have the power and resources to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction.

She said the seminars served as a build-up and an opportune moment to reflect on the highlights from the High-Level Commission Report on Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 Report (2021) titled, “No Exceptions, No Exclusions: Realising Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice for all.”

According to HLC’s report, sexual and reproductive justice is the key to the realization of the Nairobi Summit commitments.

The HLC’s report stresses and calls to action for states to prioritise those facing the worst disparities in sexual and reproductive justice.

In order to fulfil the commitments outlined in the ICPD Programme of Action (PoA) and its review conferences, as well as the commitments made at the Nairobi Summit, Zulu said an intersectional approach is crucial in order to leave no one behind.

“The HLC’s report also put emphasis on linking the sexual and reproductive justice framework to other justice agendas and issues such as education, environmental justice and economic justice. Sexual and reproductive justice is a prerequisite for achieving justice more broadly, and to end alarming disparities in sexual and reproductive justice.

“Applying a reproductive justice framework will ensure human rights and social justice are at the centre of all development efforts. It also creates opportunities for stakeholders to build solidarity and form a critical mass to effect change as sexual and reproductive justice is everyone’s responsibility,” Zulu said.

The Minister also noted that despite the progress outlined in the HLC’s report, the three years that have passed since the Nairobi Summit have been marked by a global pandemic, continuing humanitarian crises, growing challenges from transnational anti-democratic movements and a growing urgent need to address the climate crisis.

She warned that without a reproductive justice lens in SRHR development efforts, there is a risk of oversight in decision-making, policies and programs that lack representation and inclusion resulting in social injustices.

“It is of utmost importance that as South Africa we act urgently to ensure the realisation of Nairobi Summit commitments and to consider the HLC’s recommendations and respond to the recommendations in a meaningful manner, especially during times when SRHR risks becoming side-lined.

“As we gear up for the ICPD30 review process in 2024, accountability for implementing the ICPD25 commitments is and remains key,” she said.

Source: South African Government News Agency