Govt can't maintain mobile classrooms
MBABANE – After spending E46 million on mobile classrooms and mobile teachers’ houses for the Free Primary Education programme, government is finding it hard to maintain the slowly wearing-out units.
Weather elements such as storms have necessitated repairing and maintenance work, which means the cost of owning the units is becoming more expensive.
According to a report submitted to the parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC), by the Ministry of Education and Training there are insufficient funds to repair and maintain the classrooms. Furthermore, the mobile units need to be anchored so that they can withstand harsh weather conditions, but this too must be done at a cost. The report stated that after the installation of the units in 2010 by two South African companies, African Access and M Project, the contract they signed with government stipulated that they would maintain them only for a period of one year, which has long elapsed.
M Project was paid E27 million for installing 43 mobile classrooms and 130 two-bedroom teachers’ houses in Shiselweni and Lubombo regions within five months (January 10, 2010 to May 31, 2010).
African Access was paid E19 289 235 to install 35 mobile classrooms and 60 two-bedroom teachers’ houses in the Hhohho and Manzini regions.
The exact total spent by government E46 405 610. For these companies to return to the country and repair the units they must charge government for their services. Sibongile Mntshali-Dlamini, Director of Education, said charges depend on the extent of damage, which were between E20 000 and up to E40 000 per unit.
‘Govt was unprepared for FPE progamme’
MBABANE – Government was logistically unprepared for the implementation of the Free Primary Education (FPE) programme.
The Ministry of Education and Training’s report on mobile classroom units mentioned that it was forced to implement the programme in 2010 following a court order. The court order demanded that the programme be implemented in January 2010, which meant that drastic measures and decisions had to be quickly taken by government.
"Government opted to purchase mobile classrooms and teachers’ houses instead of constructing permanent structures which have delayed the implementation of the FPE programme as instructed by court," read the report.
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