21 June, 2011
While the country is fighting an uphill battle to improve basic education, more than 3500 public schools in the country have no electricity, while 2402 have no water supply.
This is according to a school infrastructure report published in May by the Department of Basic Education.
Of the country's 24 793 public schools, 913 have no toilets.
These figures refer to schools that never had these facilities at all, as well as schools where infrastructure was destroyed or not properly maintained.
In KwaZulu-Natal, which - along with the Eastern Cape and the Free State - is one of the worst-off provinces for school infrastructure, 150 students are crammed into one classroom in a school in President Jacob Zuma's home town, Nkandla.
The Shoba High School in Hlobane, northern KwaZulu-Natal, was forced to shut its doors because of a low admission rate due to poor facilities.
Parents said their children did not want to go to a school that was just "one room in the middle of a bush".
Spokesman for the Department of Basic Education Granville Whittle said the infrastructure backlog will be addressed through the department's Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative.
The initiative aims to eradicate the 395 mud schools in the country, which are all in the Eastern Cape, and provide all schools with water, electricity and sanitation by 2014.
The National Treasury has allocated R700-million to the department for the 2011/2012 financial year to fund the initiative, said Whittle.
A total of 160 schools in KwaZulu-Natal have no toilets, while 26.6% and 10.6% of its 5931 schools don't have electricity and water respectively.
In the Eastern Cape 551 of its 5 676 schools don't have toilets, 1 152 have no electricity and 1 096 have no water.