Dept stalls on school promise

2011-03-01 00:00

ABOUT 80 pupils of a rural village near Bulwer outside Pietermaritzburg have still not started school this year.

They say it is because the Education Department has failed to build them a high school, which it has promised to do so since 1998.

Parents said Makhuzeni village where they live has three primary schools, but no high school.

They are demanding that Makhuzeni High School be built and delivered as was promised.

The community said that for years their children have been forced to walk about 10 kilometres to and from the nearest high school, which is outside the village, after completing grade seven.

Said villager Beauty Mbanjwa, “Our children have been washed away by the river, bitten by snakes and raped while going to the nearest high school, Mahlahla, in Dala village.

“Other parents, who survive on government grants, are spending R400 a month transporting their children to and from Madulini High School in Gqumeni village.”

She said other local children are renting accommodation near the Centocow High, a mission school that is about 20 km away.

“Without the supervision of their parents, children are cohabiting and getting pregnant and picking up sexually transmitted diseases,” said Mbanjwa.

She said after the initial promise of a high school in 1998, the parents have been waiting for construction to start, but in vain.

“In 2004 we approached the department and we were shown a plan for the facility as proof that the construction had been approved.

“But it never happened,” said Mbanjwa.

Then they were told that construction would begin in June last year.

“The department has offered that grades eight and nine be temporarily accommodated at the Mnqundekweni Primary School while waiting for their high school, but that school to is too far away for most of the pupils.

“We prefer that they be accommodated at Ndumakude because it is central.

“The department has instructed the Ndumakude principal to lock the grade eight and nine pupils out of the school,” said another parent Zanele Mtolo.

The Ndumakude principal declined to talk to The Witness.

Education Department spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said the construction of the high school will start before the end of the year.

“The primary reason for the delay was the absorption of the Umzimkulu area into the Sisonke District and the very poor condition of the large percentage of these schools,” he said.

“Addressing the conditions at existing institutions had to take preference over the construction of the new schools that were competing for funding from the same source,” he said.

He said the only suitable to accommodate grade eight and nine classes are Mahlahla High School, Hlabeni Combined and Mnqundekweni Primary School.

“Ndumekweni is not capacitated to cater for grade eight and nine learners,” Mlotshwa added.

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