Just one new school opens in Vuwani

It was the only one built af­ter more than 30 were de­stroyed in vi­o­lent protests last year Pupils hurt in school fire

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - TEBOGO MONAMA Ilanit Chernick

VHAFAMADI Sec­ondary School in Vuwani, Lim­popo, was the first school to be razed to the ground dur­ing de­mar­ca­tion protests last year.

Now, the school is the only one of the more than 30 that were van­dalised and burnt that has been re­built.

Res­i­dents in more than 50 vil­lages in the Vuwani dis­trict last year em­barked on protests af­ter re­fus­ing to be in­cor­po­rated into a new Lim 345 Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

The new mu­nic­i­pal­ity is a merger of Vuwani, Hlan­ganani and Mala­mulele, and is ex­pected to be re­named the Collins Cha­bane Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, af­ter the late for­mer pub­lic ser­vices and ad­min­is­tra­tion min­is­ter.

Cha­bane, who came from the re­gion, died in a car ac­ci­dent in 2015.

The Vuwani com­mu­nity shut down schools for nearly three months last year. When they even­tu­ally re­opened, pupils at the van­dalised schools were ac­com­mo­dated in mo­bile class­rooms.

Pupils at Vhafamadi have now been moved from the mo­bile class­rooms into their new build­ing.

Prin­ci­pal Mashau Thenga said the 15 new classes and ad­min­is­tra­tion block were built thanks to do­na­tions.

But the school still needs nine more class­rooms and fur­ni­ture to avoid over­crowd­ing.

The gut­ted build­ing has not been de­mol­ished yet and Thenga hopes to raise more funds to build a hall.

“When the schools re­opened af­ter the protests, it was hard to teach in the mo­bile class­rooms,” he said.

While they were happy with the new school, they were still count­ing the cost of the fire, which also de­stroyed all their pupil and man­age­ment records.

Thenga said once things went back to nor­mal last year, the school called a par­ents meet­ing. “It was very tough. We had to speak to par­ents and ask them to sup­port the learn­ers and the teach­ers.

“We needed to know that there would be no more dis­rup­tions,” Thenga said.

He added that par­ents re­alised that the clo­sure of the schools had left their chil­dren dis­ad­van­taged.

“We lost 30 learn­ers. They moved to other schools be­cause their par­ents could af­ford to move them. Those who couldn’t saw how they were fail­ing their chil­dren, and they stopped the protests,” the prin­ci­pal said.

He said one of the big­gest wor­ries was that vi­o­lent protests like last year’s bred ill-dis­ci­pline among the pupils.

“When learn­ers re­turned to school af­ter see­ing the burn­ing of prop­erty, it was hard to re­in­stil dis­ci­pline, which was one of the rea­sons the ma­tric pass rate dropped from 73% in 2015 to 60.5% last year,” he said.

De­spite the drop, Vhafamadi is one of the best per­form­ing schools in the Vhuronga 2 Cir­cuit, with 35 dis­tinc­tions. The cir­cuit came out as the best per­form­ing one in Lim­popo for two years in a row.

One of the school’s can­di­dates, Nirini Sidimela, achieved six dis­tinc­tions. Three oth­ers ob­tained five.

Grade 12 pupil Makhadzi Phu­ravhathu said the new school was a huge im­prove­ment from the mo­bile class­rooms.

“It’s such a re­lief to be able to study in a large class­room and learn freely. My main fo­cus this year will be on learn­ing and noth­ing else.”

At the end of last year, Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Angie Mot­shekga told Par­lia­ment it would cost R462m to re­build, ren­o­vate and re­pair the dam­aged schools in Vuwani.

Lim­popo ed­u­ca­tion spokesper­son Dr Naledzani Rasila said they should have plans by April to re­pair the other schools.

We asked par­ents to sup­port pupils and teach­ers

A FIRE at a school in In­dus­tria West on the West Rand has left sev­eral pupils in­jured.

Emer-G-Med spokesper­son Max­well Co­hen said the struc­tural fire at the school broke out just af­ter noon yes­ter­day.

“The pa­tients sus­tained mi­nor to mod­er­ate smoke in­hala­tion burns.

“They were as­sessed on the scene and then trans­ported to var­i­ous hospi­tals while fire­fight­ers con­tin­ued to put out the fire.”

ER24 spokesper­son Rus­sel Meir­ing said the fire had started in a store­room, which was de­stroyed in the blaze.

Meir­ing said that by the time emer­gency ser­vices ar­rived, the pupils and teach­ers were evac­u­at­ing the premises.

“Five chil­dren, aged be­tween 13 and 15, were found to have been suf­fer­ing from mi­nor smoke in­hala­tion. For­tu­nately, no se­ri­ous in­juries were re­ported,” he said.

“Two of the chil­dren were trans­ported to a nearby hospi­tal for fur­ther treat­ment while the re­main­ing pa­tients de­clined fur­ther treat­ment.”

Co­hen said the City of Joburg had sent three fire en­gines to ex­tin­guish the blaze.

Later in the day, Meir­ing con­firmed that the fire had been put out.

Emer­gency Man­age­ment Ser­vices spokesper­son Nana Radebe said the cause of the fire was un­known but a fire safety team would be dis­patched to the scene to in­ves­ti­gate. –

START­ING OVER: A pupil at Vhafamadi Sec­ondary School in Vuwani walks to his new class­room. The old school was razed dur­ing protests.

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