School without water for weeks
THE water supply at Richmond Combined school near Pietermaritzburg has been cut off, forcing pupils and teachers to bring in their own as the school has been unable to pay its R32 000 bill to Umgungundlovu Municipality.
According to Sooveir Rajkumar, chairperson of the school governing body, the water was cut off about two weeks ago.
It was unclear why the amount was so high and why it had not been paid.
He said 80% of the 1 200 pupils could not afford fees.
“It is sad that pupils have to bring water from home in containers. These are poor children. Many of their parents are farmworkers who earn little and cannot afford fees.”
Rajkumar, who is a vegetable farmer in the area and has two daughters at the school, also provides it with water.
He said he couldn’t stand by while children’s rights were violated. NKULULEKO NENE email@example.com
“This is a very critical period when all grades, including matric, are writing final examinations.”
Rajkumar said he could not blame the principal, Dell Naiken, because the government subsidy of R200 000 a year was not enough for more than 1 000 pupils.
“I do not think she is to blame. It is a combination of problems. The school is really poor. There are about seven teachers whose salaries depend on whatever funds are raised by the school,” he said.
Rajkumar said it had been a terrible year for the pupils.
“There has also been an issue with the shortage of teachers. The Grade 12 pupils only got an English teacher in the third term. Certain subjects were not taught because there were no teachers for half of the year.
“Now, this water problem is the nail in the coffin,” he said.
Kwazulu-natal Department of Education spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said the exorbitant water bill was a “national crisis”.
He said the department’s subsidy was mismanaged by certain schools.
“Some schools opt not to pay for water, allowing the bill to accumulate.
“We had issues with other schools but we urged them to come forward for the reconnection of essential services on condition that an arrangement is reached with the service provider, that is, district municipality.”