School left in the lurch

Govern­ing body be­moans lack of sup­port shown to Good­will Pri­mary School by pro­vin­cial ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment

The New Age (Western Cape) - - North West News - ELFAS TORERAI elfast@the­

THE school govern­ing body (SGB) at Good­will Pri­mary School in Mahikeng has heav­ily crit­i­cised the North West ed­u­ca­tion and sport de­vel­op­ment depart­ment for a “lack of sup­port” for the school.

Ini­tially de­signed as a prepara­tory school, Good­will Pri­mary as­sumed it’s new sta­tus three years ago.

In 2015, the school started en­rolling chil­dren be­yond Grade 4 and its first co­hort of Grade 7 pupils is this year.

Since the tran­si­tion, the SGB said no sup­port had come from the depart­ment.

SGB chair­per­son Smuts Mat­she said: “Had it not been for the com­pe­tent man­age­ment at this school, we might as well have closed shop.

“We are not sure whether the depart­ment of­fi­cials are de­lib­er­ately sab­o­tag­ing us or not, but their con­duct is cer­tainly ques­tion­able.”

Mat­she said the depart­ment was in­formed of the tran­si­tion to a fullfledged pri­mary school ow­ing to the over­whelm­ing de­mand for a new school, but has ap­par­ently not sup­ported the school in the way ex­pected.

“The depart­ment has not come to the party three years down the line. The first is­sue was space be­cause build­ings here are se­verely lim­ited. The depart­ment had promised to chip in with mo­bile class­rooms but that prom­ise was never ful­filled. We then de­cided as par­ents that we needed to pro­cure mo­bile class­rooms and we have been do­ing that.

“What an­noys us is that the depart­ment then in­di­cated that if we spend our own money, it would re­im­burse us, but to date noth­ing has come,” Mat­she said.

He also said fur­ni­ture re­mained a prob­lem at the school be­cause the depart­ment also failed to hon­our its prom­ise on that front too.

“The school had fur­ni­ture for chil­dren up to Grade 4 and these are pre­dom­i­nantly small in size.

“With the ex­pan­sion to Grade 7, we needed a new set of fur­ni­ture. The depart­ment promised to de­liver but we are still wait­ing,” he said.

Mat­she fur­ther said the school had tried to meet with depart­ment of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing MEC Sello Le­hari, but has yet to be granted such an op­por­tu­nity.

“We have writ­ten many let­ters re­quest­ing an au­di­ence with of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the MEC, but we won­der why they are not up­dat­ing us.

The school is strug­gling in the new year to pro­vide enough fur­ni­ture for all the chil­dren yet the depart­ment gives a dif­fer­ent pic­ture out there,” he said.

School man­age­ment also ques­tioned why new re­cruits at the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment with pri­mary school­go­ing chil­dren were re­ferred to Good­will Pri­mary School.

“We have a num­ber of cases where of­fi­cials em­ployed by the pub­lic ser­vice here in Mahikeng are told they can be at ease if they have chil­dren in pri­mary school and would re­fer them here.

“How is the school seen to be good when the depart­ment en­trusted to sup­port it does not do so,” Mat­she said.

The school man­age­ment said get­ting sta­tionery for the 2018 aca­demic year was also a has­sle.

“We only man­aged to get part of the sta­tionery on the day be­fore open­ing af­ter mak­ing fran­tic ef­forts to con­tact the top man­age­ment at the depart­ment,” the school said.

Prin­ci­pal Lu­cia Ser­emo said the school had an en­rol­ment of about 850 pupils and apart from the chal­lenges of fur­ni­ture, space and other sup­port ef­forts, the school was do­ing well.

“The school is over­whelmed by the num­ber of peo­ple who want to place their chil­dren here to the ex­tent that we have four classes from Grade R to 4,” she said.

The school re­cently pur­chased a school bus for use dur­ing sports travel and field trips.

“We bought the bus from our cof­fers be­cause it would come in handy when we have ex­tracur­ricu­lum ac­tiv­i­ties,” the prin­ci­pal said.

Ed­u­ca­tion and sport de­vel­op­ment depart­ment spokesper­son Elias Malindi said they had noted the con­cerns and is­sues raised by man­age­ment at Good­will Pri­mary School.

“So far, the depart­ment has started look­ing into the al­le­ga­tions made with a view to es­tab­lish­ing what ex­actly is go­ing on.

“A de­tailed re­sponse will then be given,” he said.


NO SUP­PORT: From left sit­ting, deputy prin­ci­pal Krista Jor­daan, SGB chair­per­son Smuts Mat­she and prin­ci­pal Lu­cia Ser­emo at the Good­will Pri­mary School in Mahikeng, have crit­i­cised the ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment.

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