Labour department rules that classrooms at Limpopo school are too dangerous to use

Department closes down part of the school after the Department of Education failed to fix it

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Sam Mapeka, parent of a learner at Kgwatlhele Primary School in Mokopane, Limpopo, shows the cracks in one of the school blocks. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare

After no action for ten years by the Limpopo education department to repair a falling down school, parents called in the labour department. It shut down several parts of the school. The learners are now crowded into the remaining classrooms.

The Limpopo Department of Employment and Labour Inspectorate, in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, closed Blocks E and F and a classroom in Block A of Kgwatlhele Primary School in Mokopane. This was “due to the unsafe conditions of the building structure that are badly cracked and pose a danger to learners and teachers”, according to Lerato Mashamba, spokesperson for the department.

The library and a storeroom are also closed.

Established in 1981, the school has 608 learners and 17 educators.

Alfred Mahlaba, School Governing Board (SGB) chairperson, said, “We contacted the Department of Basic Education several times but it did not take this seriously. It has been more than ten years and the cracks now pose danger to our learners and teachers.”

Learners have been relocated to remaining classrooms which are now overcrowded: there are 77 learners in the grade 2 classroom, 75 in the grade 3, 74 in the grade 4, 72 in the grade 1, and 64 in the grade R classroom.

Teachers say they struggle to give sufficient attention to every learner when classes are so crowded.

Tidimalo Chuene, of the Limpopo Department of Basic Education, said, “As an immediate solution, the district director is working with the school to adjust the timetable and seating arrangements to accommodate learners in other classrooms in the school, while also maintaining the required social distance.”

The Education District Infrastructure unit is trying to procure mobile classrooms, she said.

Chuene said the school will be added to the list of infrastructure projects for the 2023-24 financial year.

TOPICS:  Education

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