“The preliminary figure is R442-million, and that only relates to infrastructure. So many things are damaged in schools. Literally, the only thing you can find is teachers and pupils. Material is completely gone; we are quantifying those damages now. That figure will go up.”
Affected schools, he said, had lost all study material and furniture.
The Department of Basic Education said 630 schools had been affected by the floods. Of these, 124 were extensively damaged.
Two schools were also being used to house displaced people. Mshengu said the people would be moved to other centres by Tuesday afternoon, so schooling could commence.
There were also 101 schools that were inaccessible.
Motshekga said: “They are inaccessible for some learners, but not other learners. What we are working on is to differentiate whom of those learners from the 101 schools are unable to go to school. Where are they? That is where my discussions with the minister of communications come in; on what we can do with them. Whether we can do remote and what the possibilities are.”
At least 320 000 pupils had been impacted, Mshengu said.
At least 57 pupils had died, and five were missing. One teacher and a food handler had also died in the floods.
Motshekga said the damage to schools was a setback.
“This is a major setback because we have serious infrastructure problems in the sector. It means we have to redirect resources to help with ongoing problems.”
She said the department was assessing the damage to see when schooling could return to normal.
“We are assessing where the damages are and what is possible under the circumstances and what we need to do to get things back to normal. We will be bringing professional teams of engineers to assess the damages. Books are also an issue… if we want schools to open, we have to send in books because they are all destroyed. We really are prioritising what we need to do to get schools open. We want schools to be open immediately,” she said.
Motshekga said another important reason to reopen schools was to count the human cost of the floods.
“We will be able to see how many learners are not back at school. How many have lost their parents and families. That is why it is important to open schools.”
She said schools would be able to work with the social development department to offer psychosocial support to pupils.
Motshekga said a report would be sent to the communications department by Friday, detailing what would be required.
She also said plans to place pupils in neighbouring schools were also on the cards.