Limpopo school left without a roof for seven years

Storm damage to Rakgoatha Primary was never repaired ​​​​​​​

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Photo of school building without a roof

Rakgoatha Primary School in Limpopo province lost its roof in a storm in 2016. Photos: Ezekiel Kekana

  • Rakgoatha Primary School in Limpopo province lost its roof in a storm in 2016.
  • Limpopo MEC of Education Polly Boshielo, appointed in 2019, has yet to visit the school.
  • The provincial education department says it will advertise a tender to fix the school this month.

A storm in 2016 blew the roof off one of three blocks of classrooms at Rakgoatha Primary School outside Lebowakgomo in Limpopo. The school serves the impoverished communities of Ga-Rakgoatha in Zebediela village.

For years the current and former school principals as well as the school governing body (SGB) pleaded with the provincial education department to fix the roof, but seven years on classrooms remain open to the sky.

All this time learners in grades R, 3 and 4 have had to crowd into the remaining two blocks. Then, late in 2021, the department sent mobile classrooms as a temporary measure to house the roofless three grades for the new academic year.

School principal Gloria Mothwa says she hopes that the learners will be able to concentrate better in the mobile classes while the school waits for the department to rebuild the damaged block.

“The department sent information last year that they will start fixing the building in the new year [2022],” she said.

The school falls under the Capricorn District and has just under 580 learners according to National Department of Basic Education (DBE) School Master List Data.

Lebowakgomo is about 50km south of Polokwane by road. Image: OpenStreetMap

“The Department of Education made promises that they will fix the school ever since I was there as principal, but they did not,” said a former principal at the school, who asked to remain anonymous.

“Our school is undermined because of the state of our buildings. Our children here are forced to go to faraway schools,” said out-going SGB chairperson Tinny Kekana.

She said MEC for Education in Limpopo Polly Boshielo has never visited the school.

The provincial department communication manager Tidimalo Chuene, speaking on behalf of the MEC, said, “The tender advertisement for procurement of the contractor will be published in February 2022. The scope will include refurbishment of storm-damaged blocks.”

Former learner Selina Moetjie, who finished her primary schooling at the school in 2006, said, “Even trees are growing inside … It’s really disappointing how the department or whoever is responsible for making sure that the school is fixed are failing young learners at Rakgoatha Primary.”

Limpopo registered the lowest matric percentage pass rate in 2021 out of all the provinces.

Many schools in the province are still using pit latrines and teaching in dilapidated buildings.

Mobile classrooms delivered to the school last year can be seen on the right side.

Ezekiel Kekana is an Open Society Foundation Fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand.

TOPICS:  Education

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