This comes as the portfolio committee on basic education said the provincial education departments’ failure to ensure that implementing agents are held accountable for their projects has led to the inability of provincial education departments to deliver much needed infrastructure.
Parliament made its recent assertions on the government’s failings following an infrastructure roundtable with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and all nine provincial education departments.
The portfolio committee on basic education resolved that the national Department of Basic Education and all provincial departments must strengthen and standardise their service level agreements. The department must also create a built-in penalty mechanism to hold implementing agents accountable for any delays in delivering infrastructure projects, it resolved.
“The incessant delays have an unwarranted and unacceptable impact on the mandate to deliver on the constitutional promise of quality education to all,” says committee chairperson Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba. The committee is of the view that having legally sound regulatory frameworks in place will ensure accountability.
“There is undoubtedly need for an increase in allocation to eradicate infrastructure backlogs, but this is difficult in the current environment. This is why we find it unacceptable that some provincial departments are not spending their budget. Also, the quality of work versus the money spent remains a concern that must be addressed,” she adds.
Lobby groups such as Equal Education have long documented the glaring gaps in the delivery of infrastructure in poorer provinces such as the Eastern Cape and Limpopo where, until recently, pit latrines were still widely used in public schools.
The committee asserted its awareness that in most provinces’ implementing agents are the provincial departments of public works, making it difficult to build in risk mechanisms to hold public works to account. This is why MPs support provinces that have decided to build internal capacity to ensure that they are able to implement projects at an acceptable rate and pace.