Learners fear school might fall on them

A primary school in East London is on the brink of collapse - literally

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Photo of a classroom
Students at Ntsasa Primary School in East London. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

Students at Ntsasa Primary School in Phumlani in East London fear that their school might fall on them while in class.

The school is built out of ceiling board, planks and zinc sheets. Windows are broken. Doors have no handles. The school has no fence. The foundations are shifting, weakening the walls.

On Monday, teachers said two students were taken to a local clinics after they were cut by glass from the broken windows.

Freezing and hard to concentrate

“It’s freezing here. It is hard to concentrate,” said 12-year-old Sisipho Makeleni in grade six. She sits next to a broken window, sharing her desk with three other learners.

“We are studying under these bad conditions. This wall is going to fall soon. Once you lean on it, you can see it’s moving,” said Makeleni.

“Water comes in when it rains and we have to move around the class looking for a place to stay … When there’s heavy wind, some of the windows fall down,” she said.

According to the teachers, Ntsasa Primary School was built in the early 1980s. The school has 412 learners from grade R to grade seven and nine teachers.

Teachers said the school was built as a temporary school. At one stage according to the teachers, the Eastern Cape education department said that after five years they were going to build a proper school in its place.

Former School Governing Body (SGB) member Nomakhaya Xhashe said that she has lost count of how many times they had meetings with the department and been promised a school.

Xhashe said for years they were told that they are number one on the project list for a new school. But this year things changed; they were told that they are no longer on the list.

“Even this year parents and members of SGB went to the Department of Education offices in Mdantsane. That’s when we were told that we are no longer on a priority list,” she said.

“We were so confused and we came back with no answers. What we did not understand was how this happened … They said there is no budget to build our school,” said Xhashe.

“Nothing is good about this school. Every year they patch the broken wall with zinc and ceiling boards and it’s not even proper because they are fixing it by themselves. There is no money to hire someone from outside,” she said.

“Three of my children were studying here when we started asking the department for a new school. Today, I’m fighting for my two grandchildren Still the department does not seem to hear us. We are following all the rules. … We arrange meetings with officials but nothing is happening,” said Xhashe.

On Friday last week, 500 Eastern Cape students around King William’s Town who are members of Equal Education, wrote letters to the education MEC Mandla Makhuphula demanding better schools. The meeting which was supposed to occur last week is now scheduled to happen next week.

Here are some of their letters:
Photo of a letter
GroundUp is still awaiting a response from the Eastern Cape Department of Education
TOPICS:  Education

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