Refurbishing Schools Infrastructure

The Eastern Cape Department of Education (EC DOE) appointed the DBSA in October 2015 to be one of the implementing agents for their Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Programme (ASIDI). This agreement mandated the DBSA through its IDD to support the EC DOE with the planning, packaging, design and construction of schools infrastructure in the Eastern Cape bringing the identified schools to comply with the schools infrastructure norms and standards set by the Department of Basic Education (DBE). The scope of work included:

  •  full service of identified schools’ minor upgrades;
  •  fencing;
  •  electrification;
  •  realignment with school grading requirements;
  •  recapitalisation for technical workshops; and
  •  hostel upgrades and construction of classrooms.

Since 2015, the IDD has completed school maintenance and refurbishment of 95 projects on behalf of EC DOE valued at R938 million.

These projects have created at least 2 524 employment opportunities for local labour and further created economic opportunities for at least 165 SMMEs and subcontractors, over four years. In recognition of this track record, the IDD was assigned the responsibility to refurbish Healdtown Comprehensive High School boys’ hostel, which is one of the schools identified for refurbishment under the Historic Schools Restoration Project in the Eastern Cape. Its renovation did not only create a conducive learning environment, but also catalyses tourism and contributes to creation of job opportunities in the area.

Heritage of Healdtown

Healdtown Comprehensive High School is situated in Ngwevu Location about 20 km north-east of Fort Beaufort, in Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality in the Amathole District. Established by missionaries in the nineteenth century, its first classes were offered in 1853 when it started operating as a centre for theological and teacher training. It subsequently offered high school classes from 1925. The school was run by the Methodist Church until 1956 when the government took over following the promulgation of the Bantu Education Act. Throughout that period the school attracted learners who included those that later became prominent political leaders, such as former President Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba and Robert Sobukwe, amongst others. They all attended Healdtown for part of their high school education and former President Nelson Mandela spent two years there.

Over the years, the Healdtown Comprehensive HighSchool’s infrastructure became dilapidated after its hostel was burnt down in 1976 following the Soweto Uprising. The EC DOE identified the school as one of the five schools to be refurbished to preserve its heritage status under the Historic Schools Restoration Project. Other historic schools included Clarkebury, Freemantle, Mount Arthur and St. Matthews. The refurbishment of this school, allocated to the DBSA, focused on restoring hostel facilities to provide accommodation to learners who reside far from the school.

The full project scope involved the rehabilitation of the:

  •  boys’ hostel accommodating 79 beds;
  •  matron’s room;
  •  sick bay;
  •  student lounge;
  •  parents’ lounge;
  •  ablution facilities;
  •  kitchenette;
  •  paving and grassing of the front courtyard;
  •  paving of the school parking area;
  •  internal access road and pedestrian pathways;
  •  streetlights;
  •  water and sanitation services by installing a rainwater harvesting system; and
  •  sewerage pipes’ connection to the existing septic tanks;
  •  water reservoir.

The project, valued at R46 million delivered all the outputs stipulated in the scope of work. Implementation started on 18 May 2017 and reached completion on 23 November 2018.

Design innovation

The project design team considered innovative build technology to promote energy efficiency and water conservation. For energy efficiency, all rooms have been fitted with energy efficient lights as well as light sensors in the patio and lounges. To conserve water, the project included the installation of a rainwater harvesting system with a conservancy tank to supplement the onsite borehole water supply.

Development impact

The restored hostel has provided learners with secure accommodation and reduced their travel time from homes. It also enables the school to host vacation classes and simultaneously serves as a marking centre due to the decent accommodation it provides.
As a historic school that has played a meaningful role in the struggle for democracy, Healdtown has a rich heritage that attracts local and international tourists.