School with­out wa­ter for weeks

Sunday Tribune - - METRO -

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 nku­l­

“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.”

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