Long wait for new school

2010-10-12 00:00

FIVE years after being promised a decent school, pupils at Umsilinga Primary in Swapo C area near Copesville are still crammed into prefabs and flimsy mud houses they use for classrooms.

Parents say the conditions are dire and not conducive to learning.

Former KwaZulu-Natal premier and current Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele visited the area in 2005 after storms destroyed two neighbouring primary schools, Umsilinga and Greenkop.

He promised to build a school as a matter of urgency so children would not have to learn under trees.

But for this to happen the schools, which were literally fences apart, had to merge so that one school could be built. The schools have since done this, uniting under the name of Umsilinga Primary.

However, five years on, not a single classroom has come out of that promise.

But this time it has nothing to do with the Education Department’s tardiness.

The land that the school occupies is owned by a local businessman.

The KZN Education Department asked Msunduzi Municipality to buy the land so that it could then buy it from the council.

The Witness understands that the businessman’s price was originally too steep and this held up construction.

This led to a decision by the municipality in October last year to expropriate the land.

Brian Zuma, the municipality’s spokesperson, said part of the land is required for the school, but the larger portion will be used for a housing development.

“We are planning to acquire the whole plot and [the Education Department] will then purchase the section for the school from council,” he said.

Zuma added that the seller has since been approached and he has reduced his asking price to a reasonable value. But the council, whose finances are precarious, has approached Afrisam, a major black-controlled construction materials group, which has agreed to fund the purchase.

He said council will be asked to revoke the decision to expropriate the land and replace that with a resolution to acquire by private treaty.

Education Department spokesperson Mbali Thusi said planning processes are already in place. The department is awaiting the final decision from the municipality.

“We have designs and drawings in place but … we could not build on privately owned land.”

Ray Mabena, a parent and chairperson of the school’s governing body, said he cannot understand what is prolonging the building of the school.

The school has 1 200 pupils who are taught in 23 prefabs provided by the department over the years. Up to 60 children were squashed into these classrooms before parents built mud structures to alleviate the burden.

While the parent community has plastered the cracks in the classroom walls from time to time, teachers are worried that on windy days the children may be hurt if the corrugated iron roof collapses.

Mabena said that with the school’s current condition, it stands to lose dedicated teachers.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.