Protesters decry dept’s failure to fix schools
The community of Kroonvale marched to the Department of Education’s district offices in Graaff-reinet on Thursday morning, 27 September, to protest against the horrendous conditions at Asherville Secondary and Lingcom Primary schools.
Teachers, community leaders and parents from these schools are up in arms after contractors, sub-contractors and consultants who were tasked with the upgrades at these schools abandoned the sites after not being paid for 15 months, with many being forced to retrench workers, as they are owed in excess of R4.2 million.
In the meantime, children are forced to use overcrowded, dilapidated classrooms, with limited or no access to bathrooms, while the adjacent work site stands vacant.
Ward 5’s councillor, Glenda Mackelina, is appalled by the current learning conditions at these schools.
She said the construction site at Lingcom Primary is a safety hazard for its young learners.
“The children are playing on the construction site, unaware of the multitude of dangers surrounding them. The department needs to act immediately before a child is seriously injured. If things continue the way they are now, it is just a matter of time before someone gets hurt,” said a concerned Mackelina.
During the protest, Mackelina and PR councilor Daniël Williams presented a memorandum to Nicky de Bruyn, office manager at the Department of Education’s district office in Graaff-reinet.
The exchange of the memorandum, however, was done through a locked motor gate.
De Bruyn signed the memorandum and committed to follow-up on previous communications between their office and the Department of Education’s provincial department in this regard.
Department to pay service providers after audit
When queried about this issue, Loyiso Pulumani, the spokesperson for the Eastern Cape Department of Education, said that an audit had to be conducted before the department can process any payments relating to the work at the two schools affected.
He further stated that the department has committed to attend to payments as soon as they were processed as from 25 September.
“I am therefore fairly confident that this Photo: Jason Milford
outcome will enable the service providers to be paid, and therefore return to the site to continue with the outstanding work,” said Pulumani.
See a video at www.graaffreinetadvertiser.com Protesters marching to the Department of Education district offices in Graaff-reinet.