Schooling underscores children's rights
The department of infrastructure development implements varied education infrastructure projects categorised according to the following programmes:
The Gauteng provincial government, through the Gauteng department of infrastructure development, rolled out and implemented the planning and construction of new schools across the province on behalf of the department of education.
The programme involved completion of nine schools. The design philosophy is premised on bridging the gap between the historical disparities in how functional, uniform and standardised educational facilities are. This means that pupils who go to school on the urban periphery will enjoy the same infrastructure benefits as those in affluent areas, thus restoring their dignity and human rights. The programme roll-out was based on a turnkey concept, underpinned by a prototype that is based on the requirements of the National Schools Infrastructure Norms and Standards policy.
New smart schools
The department is rolling out construction of 18 new schools in 2015/16. A total of 17 of the schools will be completed in the new financial year and one in the following year.
The new schools are based on the “smart schools” concept. The design takes into account the overwhelming demand for schooling space and, as a result, the developments are mega schools that can accommodate up to 1 200 pupils each. The design of the buildings incorporates several green features.
One example is Phomolong Primary School. The school houses pupils from Grade R to grade seven and offers the entire basic leaning environment. It consists of an Intermediate Classrooms Block consisting of nine classrooms, a Grade R Classrooms Block consisting in three classrooms, a Foundation Phase Classrooms Block consisting of eight classrooms and a Senior Phase Grade 7 Classrooms Block consisting of six classrooms. Other features include a library, laboratories, kitchen and administration block, a guard house, a refuse yard, parking and paving, walkways and yard walls, a steel palisade fence, a soccer field and paved netball, basketball and tennis courts.
Construction began in October 2012 with an original completion date of June 2013, but the project was delayed for 21 months for a variety of reasons beyond the contractual regimen. This delay also resulted in some escalation of costs. Originally, the school was budgeted at R38.9-million but it eventually cost R46.7-million. However, it contributed significantly in the local economy with the creation of about 140 jobs, and it employed local sub-contractors who did ceiling, painting and electrical work.
The alternative construction method used at Phomolong Primary School is called the ROBUST Building System. The walls of the ROBUST Building System are constructed with factory-produced expanded metal panels. Mortar is applied to both faces of the expanded metal panels to form the core structure of the wall. The mortar is applied wet (pumped with a ROBUST mortar machine) or dry (pumped with a gunite machine), and is always done mechanically. The core can then be scratched for a rough finish or plastered on both faces for a smoother finish to complete the system. The core can also be tiled or cladded for a preferred finish.
The new smart schools programme complies with the education department’s gazetted norms and standards. It will also incorporate technological learning in classrooms boasting connectivity, promethean boards, visual screens and technology induction centres.
The current school prototype complies with green agenda principles. The Gauteng department of infrastructure development will evaluate a proposal to incorporate the School Generic Prototype Design in order to obtain a green-star rating certification in terms of Green Star SA. All new schools will now have assembly halls, and technological front end and backbone infrastructure will be introduced to comply with e-learning.
Smart school conversions
As part of the smart schools rollout, some of the existing teaching and learning facilities in Gauteng are being converted into smart schools. In January 2015 the department successfully converted five schools, which were part of the phase launched by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Gauteng Premier David Makhura. The programme involves restorative repairs and includes the deployment of enabling technology and security features.
Boarding schools are part of the solutions applied in addressing challenges of pupils’ safety and access to education. Magaliesburg Boarding Facility, completed in September 2014, provides residential facilities, facilities for caregivers, a dining hall, study areas, a chapel and sports facilities.
Construction of the Nokuthula Learners with Special Education Needs (LSEN) Boarding School has started and is due for completion in 2017. The facility is a specialised boarding facility and offers various facilities that are required to cater to the human rights of pupils with special education needs. The design approach was a collaboration between professionals in the built environment and specialists in the education sector. The environment to be created will make LSEN pupils feel at home and comfortable, despite their varied challenges.