‘It feels like a dream’

2010-05-28 00:00

RUNDOWN, muddy, overcrowded and windowless tin classrooms are a thing of the past at the McCarthy Primary School in Tamboville, near Glenwood, now that the KZN Education Department has made good on its promise.

The department officially handed over the buildings of the newly constructed school in a small celebratory function with staff yesterday afternoon. This has occurred seven years after the community was promised a proper school.

One of the teachers had approached former president Thabo Mbeki, who was in the town during an election campaign, about the abnormal learning conditions at the school.

The then acting Education MEC Gabriel Ndabandaba was sent on the president’s behalf to view the situation for himself.

Follow-up visits were conducted by former Education MEC Ina Cronjé, following her appointment in 2004. The dire conditions at the school allegedly resulted in Cronjé promising that the school would be on her list of priorities.

However, for six years, not much happened. The department told The Witness that the delay was the result of a problem with a contractor who had failed to deliver.

Teachers at the school complained to The Witness early last year that staff members and pupils, many of whom were Aids orphans, were constantly getting sick because of the “pig sty” conditions they were working in.

Today the precarious, paths to the classrooms, which required teachers to wear gumboots, have been replaced with high, arching corridors.

The school’s peeling walls have made way for neat coloured blocks with unique designs.

Department spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa, said the project cost the department R15 million.

He said the replacement contractor, who happens to be a woman, started working in March 2009 and has been able to meet the stipulated deadlines.

The school boasts 24 new classrooms, an administration block, three multi-purpose classrooms, a computer and media centre and a toilet block.

The pupils also have their own tuckshop.

Principal Khethiwe Ndlela said that having a proper school “felt like a dream”.

“Compared with the mud we come from, this almost feels like too much. We really did not expect it. There is such a spirit of pride among all of us now,” she said

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