South African’s National Liberation Movement

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Parliamentary Bulletin

Issue No. 17

School Register of Needs Survey

8 September 1997

This week the School Register of Needs Survey was tabled and debated in the House of Assembly.

This report, for the first time in the history of education in South Africa, presents a comprehensive database of every public school in the country. It details exact geographic location and the extent of the physical facilities (classrooms, sports fields, laboratories, libraries etcetera). Virtually all of the 32 000 public schools in the country were visited during 1996.

The findings of this report are shocking. It highlights the fact that the provinces in the greatest need are those which incorporated the largest of the former homelands — the Eastern Cape, Northern Province and Kwazulu-Natal

Key Findings of the Report


The highest enrolments are in the Provinces with the greatest needs:

  • Kwazulu-Natal 2 690 950
  • Eastern Cape 2 231 865
  • Northern Province 1 934 101

Water Access

  • 24% of schools have no water within walking distance
  • 8% of schools have water from a communal tap
  • Only 25% of schools have water available indoors
  • 11% of schools get their water from dams or rivers.

Power Supply

Less than half the schools in the country have a power supply. In the Northern Province 79% of schools have no power, in the Eastern Cape 77%, and Kwazulu-Natal 61%.
In number terms, the Northern Province has 3 280 schools without power, whereas in the Western Cape the number is 191.


In the Eastern Cape only 19% of schools have telephones, Free State 25% and the Northern Province 32%. Compare this with Gauteng (85%) and Western Cape (88%)


The survey assumed a need of one toilet to twenty learners. On this assumption Kwazulu-Natal has a shortage of 66 921 toilets, Northern Province 51 324 toilets and Eastern Cape 46 785 toilets.
13% of schools have no toilets at all. 47 % of schools have pit latrines and only 34% of schools have flush toilets.


73 % of schools have no learning equipment and 69% of schools had no materials. 82% of schools had no media equipment and 72% had no media collections.

Media Centres

The provision of media centres (which includes libraries) is almost non-existent in certain provinces. In the Northern Province only 2%, in the Free State 4%, and Eastern Cape 4%of primary schools have these facilities. Compare this with the Western Cape where 42% of primary schools have these facilities.

Specialised Study Areas

Facilities such as science laboratories, workshops, cookery centres etc. are almost non-existent in the Eastern Cape (15%). In Kwazulu-Natal, North West and Mpumalanga less than 50% of schools have these facilities, compared 88% in the Western Cape.

Furniture, Basic Equipment and Materials

These figures are also shocking. 3.7% of schools have no student work tops or chairs. 38% are inadequately supplied, 40% of schools have no desks and chairs for administration and 41% have no cupboards for administration.

National Party Indictment

These figures present a severe indictment of National Party mismanagement under Apartheid. It is ironic that the National Party accuse us of wanting to lower educational standards Even as recently as 1992 the NP attempted to entrench the privileges of white pupils by turning them into Model C Schools. The unbalanced allocation of resources to areas in which the NP had the most support is evident in the well-equipped schools of Gauteng and the Western Cape.

Key Political Messages

  • Minister Bengu has for the first time provided the country with a detailed audit of educational needs. This information makes it possible to plan properly in the allocation of resources to deal with the apartheid education legacy
  • Reconciliation and successful nation-building cannot occur while the terrible legacy of apartheid education remains unaddressed
  • The ANC is committed to tackling the education issue head on with Legislation and Policy designed to transform education. The Legislative framework is already in place with:
    • The National Education Policy Act
    • The Schools Act
    • Curriculum 2005
    • The National Qualifications Framework
  • Those who oppose these measures seek to entrench privilege in the education system
  • We wish to build bridges wherever we can across the educational divides forged by apartheid
  • Education was one of the NP’s greatest failures. It is one of the government’s most important priorities
  • Education is not merely for the good of the individual. It is an economic necessity for the nation
  • Our people are our greatest national asset. Only through education can their potential flourish.

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