School’s par­ents take mat­ters into their own hands

‘Dropout rate too high’

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - TEBOGO MONAMA tebogo.monama@inl.co.za

A LIMPOPO school has waited seven years for dam­aged roofs and class­rooms to be re­paired.

Now par­ents at Seale Sec­ondary School in Bot­lokwa have given up all hope of the Limpopo Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment ever fix­ing their school.

They have now de­cided to raise funds of their own and re­build their school.

In 2010, the school was hit by a storm col­laps­ing a class­room and dam­ag­ing most of the roof­ing.

After wait­ing for the depart­ment to fix the school, to no avail, the com­mu­nity then de­cided to get do­na­tions and fix the wall and sal­vage some of the dam­aged cor­ru­gated iron and re­pair the roof.

Dis­as­ter struck again in 2013 when an­other storm hit, dam­ag­ing three class­rooms.

In 2014, yet an­other storm hit the school so hard, it col­lapsed a wall sep­a­rat­ing two class­rooms.

Now the school is left with five dam­aged class­rooms and a se­ri­ous over­crowd­ing prob­lem.

School gov­ern­ing body chair­per­son Ma­soko Mabeba said: “We have been go­ing to the cir­cuit and pro­vin­cial of­fices for years and they are not help­ing us.

“Ev­ery time we go there, they make prom­ises but they are never kept.”

She said be­cause the com­mu­nity waited for more than seven years for the depart­ment to fix their school, they had now lost hope and wanted to raise funds for the re­fur­bish­ment them­selves.

The Grade 8 and 9 class­rooms are over­crowded with 69 and 60 pupils, re­spec­tively.

In a crammed Grade 8 class­room, three pupils have to sit at a desk that is meant to ac­com­mo­date only two.

Some of the pupils have to use bro­ken desks that don’t have the wooden tops.

They bal­ance their books on their laps to write.

The roof is also leak­ing and some win­dows are bro­ken.

Com­mu­nity mem­ber Seucha Kganakga said: “There will be no more di­a­logue with the depart­ment.

“Let’s get the school done and deal with pol­i­tics later.”

Kganakga said when the schools re­opened this year, they had de­cided to try to raise funds for them­selves.

“Our com­mu­nity is very ac­tive. We will now have to raise funds so that we can fix the school our­selves.

“If the depart­ment wants to help, they can.”

Limpopo ed­u­ca­tion spokesper­son Dr Naledzani Rasila said the depart­ment was work­ing hard to re­pair schools.

“Cur­rently we have 120 storm dam­aged schools in the prov­ince. We have an in­fra­struc­ture plan to build new ones and re­fur­bish some.

“Un­for­tu­nately, we have lim­ited re­sources and we will not get to all of them at the same time.”

PRES­I­DENT Ja­cob Zuma says the gov­ern­ment pays for school text­books and, there­fore, ad­min­is­tra­tors should de­liver them timeously to pupils ev­ery year.

He was speak­ing on day two of the Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment’s (DBE) lek­gotla held at Irene in Cen­tu­rion yes­ter­day.

The three-day gath­er­ing of MECs, heads of depart­ment, teach­ers and unions seek­ing to re­flect on the coun­try’s ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem over the past 2e years, as well as map the way for­ward in achiev­ing goals set out in the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan.

Ne­glected schools, mainly in ru­ral ar­eas, and what has been viewed as the gov­ern­ment’s con­tin­u­ous fail­ure to dis­trib­ute text­books and sta­tionery and im­prove the school­ing in­fra­struc­ture in these ar­eas, have been deemed by ac­tivists and civil rights groups as a gross vi­o­la­tion of the con­sti­tu­tion.

This week, the SA Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion in­di­cated it was mulling whether to in­sti­tute le­gal ac­tion against the DBE for fail­ing to de­liver text­books to schools in Limpopo.

While the DBE in Limpopo ear­lier this month as­sured the pub­lic that books would be de­liv­ered on time, Zuma said the sec­tor had to keep to its prom­ises.

“We urge prov­inces where there could be slow de­liv­ery of text­books this year to speed this up, so that all the school­child­ren can have their books be­fore the end of Jan­uary,” he said.

The pres­i­dent pointed out that the con­sti­tu­tion re­quired the gov­ern­ment to pro­vide qual­ity and com­pul­sory ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion to all South Africans, ir­re­spec­tive of race, creed, re­li­gion, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der iden­tity, age and dis­abil­ity. The gov­ern­ment re­mained com­mit­ted to achiev­ing these ob­jec­tives, Zuma said.

He added that the gov­ern­ment had made progress in im­prov­ing the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion, and cited the school nu­tri­tion pro­gramme that pro­vides up to 9 mil­lion pupils with meals each day, and that up to 135 state-of-the-art schools were opened in the Eastern Cape and other prov­inces in or­der to elim­i­nate the ex­is­tence of mud schools.

Zuma im­plored par­ents to help their chil­dren im­prove their read­ing and lit­er­acy skills and to limit watch­ing TV, which, he said, robbed them of time to fo­cus on their school work. He also urged the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor and com­mu­ni­ties to deal with the high dropout rate.

“Our own analysis shows that less than 50% of all the learn­ers who joined our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem reach ma­tric level, after 12 years of learn­ing… There are many rea­sons for this – mostly so­cio-eco­nomic and so­cial ills. Whether it is fi­nan­cial rea­sons, drug abuse or other so­cial chal­lenges, we need to tackle them to­gether. We must keep our youth in school,” he said.

Teach­ers, prin­ci­pals and schools who ob­tained low pass rates have been given a stern warn­ing. Zuma said: “There must be con­se­quences for prin­ci­pals and school man­age­ment teams who recorded a 0% pass rate.

“We must not al­low any room in the pub­lic ser­vice for in­ep­ti­tude and in­com­pe­tence. Ev­ery­one must strive for ex­cel­lence, more so in ed­u­ca­tion.”

But pub­lic in­ter­est law cen­tre Sec­tion27 was unim­pressed with Zuma’s speech.

“De­spite im­por­tant ref­er­ences to school in­fra­struc­ture, the qual­ity of school­ing and early child­hood de­vel­op­ment, the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive does not prop­erly ad­dress the pro­vin­cial fail­ures to im­prove the ed­u­ca­tion at schools,” it said.

“Na­tional pro­grammes, in­clud­ing the ASIDI (Ac­cel­er­ated School In­fra­struc­ture De­liv­ery Ini­tia­tive), are good in­ter­ven­tions, but are by their na­ture lim­ited, and they will not change the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, where prov­inces are fail­ing to prop­erly im­ple­ment poli­cies,” the watch­dog said.

PIC­TURE: ITUMELENG ENGLISH

RE­PAIRS NEEDED: Pupils at Seale Sec­ondary School in Bot­lokwa in Limpopo are faced with over­crowd­ing due to five dam­aged class­rooms. Par­ents have been ap­peal­ing to the depart­ment to fix the school for seven years.

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