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Geographic tool improves school planning

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The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has developed an electronic tool for improving infrastructure planning for education.

Education MEC Donald Grant on Friday launched the Geographic Information System (GIS) for Infrastructure Planning.

He said this tool will assist the department to respond better and more efficiently to the changing demands placed on its education system.

“The new GIS for Infrastructure Planning uses as base information the utilisation levels of schools depicted geographically.”

In addition to this base information, Grant said the WCED is populating the GIS with school-specific data concerning the actual and required size of school facilities; learner enrolment levels and trends; classroom ratios; school fees; medium of instruction; quintile and poverty index data; type of school (such as primary, secondary, intermediate and combined); whether schools operate from leased premises; and whether schools are built with inappropriate materials.

Infrastructure expansion

“The new Geographic Information System, which is available and operational for all our districts, provides us with a better opportunity than before to interrogate and diagnose systematically school provisioning issues that may require investigative, planning and delivery attention in the Western Cape,” said the MEC.

He added that using the new GIS as part of infrastructure planning for education, the department will be better equipped to make informed decisions with regard to the consolidation and expansion of school infrastructure in the Western Cape.

“We must remember that the environment within which our education system operates is evolving all the time and should not be allowed to impact on the system to the detriment of our learners.

'We need to be planning better as we respond to the changing demands on our education system and take steps to consolidate school infrastructure in the province. With the new GIS we are confident that we will be able to do just that.”

New schools

The WCED in February 2010 released its education infrastructure plan, which included the building of 45 new permanent school structures over a three-year period (including new schools and replacement schools that were built with inappropriate materials).

To date, it has completed the building of 23 new schools and has replaced eight schools built with inappropriate materials.

In the current financial year, being the last year of the plan, it expects to complete the building of three new schools and 13 replacement schools.

“The completion of this plan will mean that an additional 30 000 learners will have access to education in the Western Cape. A further 27 000 learners will also have the opportunity to learn in a suitable and safe environment where quality teaching and learning can take place,” said Grant.

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