Plan to fix run-down school

2011-11-17 00:00

THE restoration of the filthy and dilapidated Sukuma Comprehensive High School is on the cards, but a lot needs to be done.

Yesterday at the school the South African Sports academy (Sassa) unveiled its plans to rehabilitate the school in order to use its sports facilities. The non-profit organisation is planning to channel R9,065 million towards sports development at the school.

Sassa secretary Dumisani Dladla said the aim is to use the facilities for students to be able to play sport there. Sassa wants to arrange for the Department of Correctional Services to clean the school every second Saturday, “and we want to bring computers and build a library”.

“We cannot do anything tangible at this point because of the school’s current state.”

Boarding master Richard Ngalo, who has been with the school since 1989, took representatives of the Education Department and the Msunduzi Mayor’s office on a tour.

When approaching the hostel, one is greeted by the stench of urine and the sight of dirty water leaking from the drains, mouldy walls and broken windows.

Of the eight hostels only two are used. They house 240 pupils. The others six have been vandalised and are strewn with ordure and litter.

When The Witness questioned the representatives about a possible permanent solution for fixing and maintaining the school, they were too dismayed to provide an answer.

The principal, Dumisani Hlongwane, who took over the school in 2008, refused to play the blame game and said he is only interested in improving the school’s pass rate.

“We have to bear in mind that most of the pupils’ parents are unemployed. They cannot even afford the R700 school fees.

“Once the school is renovated we have to work at keeping it in that good state and that is a big task.

“For now we are focusing on getting the school to achieve a 100% pass rate under these difficult situations.”

Provincial education spokesperson Mbali Thusi said the department is addressing the issue and a tender for the school’s renovation has been advertised.

“Starting from February 1, 2012, the 18-month renovation process, which will cost R33 million, will begin.

“This will involve the renovation of four hostels and the dining hall.”

On the school’s Facebook page, former pupils reminisce about their good memories and how they are pained about the school’s state.

Absa’s manager of enterprise development and portfolio manager for women’s empowerment with the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, Mandisa Jostrey, was a member of the class of 1994. She said some former pupils are working on ideas to help where they can.

She said, “We still pride ourselves on having come from the school even though it is not what it used to be.

“We remember the days where we used to be the best boarding school in the province and we want to get the school back there.

“There are people in influential positions who went to the school and we are very keen on getting involved. We are in talks of getting a structure together and taking things forward.”

thandiwe.jumo@witness.co.za

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