Johannesburg, Apr 13: A new campaign in South Africa aims at improving infrastructure backlog in 94 schools, in poor communities, in an effort to fulfill the country's founding father Nelson Mandela's dream for every child to be educated.
The initiative has been launched by the Department of Basic Education in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation ahead of his 94th birthday on 18 July.
"In partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation we want to pay tribute to him and what he stands for by making a visible difference to the lives of children served by at least 94 schools in South Africa," said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga at the launch of the Mandela Day 2012 "94+ Schools Project" launch.
Mandela's birthday on 18 July is marked annually as Mandela Day.
"This year it is his 94th birthday and it is within this context that we have identified 94 schools that are in dire need of assistance," Motshekga said as she explained the campaign title.
"President Mandela upheld the values of Ubuntu (caring for your fellowmen) and treating all with respect and dignity and yet there are children who continue to learn in conditions not conducive for effective learning and teaching including the safety and health of our children," the minister said.
"This is an initiative that the education sector can build on''.
"The minister said that although significant progress had been made to improve school facilities from the days of the apartheid era when schools for the Black majority received the least funding, there still remained a lot to be done.
“Despite these achievements there are still huge gaps in terms of insufficient infrastructure provision, for example, shortage of classrooms, laboratories and libraries, the replacement of pit latrines and mud structures, and inadequate maintenance leading to leaking roofs, broken windows and doors”.
Motshekga said the intention of the department is to mobilise resources and support from various sectors of society around the enormous task of alleviating the infrastructure backlog primarily for schools serving the poor.