Centurion — Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane has opened the province's first school built entirely from alternative construction technologies.
The state-of-the-art Orefile Primary School, which was officially opened on Tuesday, is set to dramatically improve learning conditions in Olievenhoutbosch, especially for learners enrolled at Philane Primary School, currently housed in a set of prefabricated structures.
Half of the 1 192 pupils at Philane will be transferred to the brand new school at the beginning of the new school year in January 2013.
Orefile was built in a record of 10 months using the Razorbil alternative construction method, instead of bricks and mortar. The entire project cost R33.4 million.
The school boasts 24 classrooms including three Grade R, eight Foundation Phase, nine Intermediate and four Senior Phase classrooms; an administration block; computer and multimedia rooms; storerooms; laboratories; sports fields, recreational and ablution facilities.
Handing over the new school, Mokonyane highlighted that with the use of alternative technology, the province was helping to find and create national solutions.
"A green school has happened for the first time in South Africa and here in Gauteng province. It is going to use recycled water, alternative energy sources and has an alternative layout of the school infrastructure. Everything starts here in Gauteng, when Gauteng sneezes, everybody catches cold," beamed Mokonyane.
Mokonyane said a school of this stature was also important to lift community morale where people have lost hope.
"Every day you'll hear over the radio that people at Olievenhoutbosch are protesting but once we came in here, because of the kind of job opportunities we've created and partnerships made with the community, there haven't been any protests because people's energies were directed to the right thing.
"We believe that if you want to succeed, you have to work and be part of government and assist community leaders and be part of the development processes and rally behind your leadership and co-operate with them."
Mokonyane emphasised that the school did not only belong to government or the Education Department but to the community, who must take care of it.
"This is a site for young minds and future leaders," she said, adding that she did not wish to see destructive businesses operating around the school.
Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy thanked the Infrastructure Development MEC Qedani Mahlangu for pushing the project and ensuring that delivery happened within a few months.
"If the purpose of education is to make up for family background, the quality of the school and facilities contained in the school will start the long process of [helping] some of the children from informal settlements," said Creecy.
Creecy said the school was designed according to new standards where children in the different phases were separated.
"We are separating children according to the educational phases. It is important because it helps with the issue of bullying," she said.
Independent Development Trust Chief Operations Officer, Ayanda Wakaba, applauded the provincial government for its continued drive of improving the quality of school infrastructure, particularly in the previously disadvantaged communities.
The opening of the school forms part of government's Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs). President Jacob Zuma, in his State of the Nation Address earlier this year, announced an infrastructure plan for the country.
It lists 18 SIPs which cover a range of economic and social infrastructure projects across all nine provinces, with an emphasis on poorer regions.
The new school is part of SIP 13: National School Building. Over 9 000 school projects are in the pipeline to deal with the backlog.