School’s parents take matters into their own hands
‘Dropout rate too high’
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.
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.