New school raises Diepsloot spirit
Johannesburg - The re-opening of Itirele-Zenzele Secondary school in Diepsloot inspired many pupils and left residents in high spirits on Wednesday.
"The challenging days of travelling are over... we now have a school right here at the back of our homes," Grade 12 pupil Katlego Serakwana said.
"I'm looking forward to passing Grade 12 with flying colours so that I can study engineering next year."
Grade 11 pupil Johannes Masondo agreed.
"We now have to pay [Gauteng premier] Nomvula Mokonyane and the government back by excelling in our studies," he said.
The two youths were some of the hundreds of pupils and parents who were addressed by Mokonyane shortly before she officially re-opened the school in the area north of Johannesburg.
Drinking at school and staying away from classes would be severely dealt with, Mokonyane told the pupils.
She urged them to avoid prioritising leisure activities, such as matric dances and partying. Education should come first.
R70m to build school
Mokonyane said education was the key to success and took hard work.
"Your future is in your hands and you must start planning for it today, by studying.
"We are here because we care about you; we spent R70m to build this school so that you can have a good future."
Mokonyane was accompanied by education MEC Barbara Creecy and several other officials of the Gauteng government.
The visit formed part of a get-back-to school campaign in the province as schools opened for the new year.
The premier told pupils the government would spend more than R26bn on education this year to make sure all youth had access to it.
"Those who come from poor families must also know that we have supporting programmes in our schools that will make sure that they get access to every service."
After addressing the gathering, 150 children from poor families were given uniforms, including jerseys, socks, shirts, trousers, skirts and shoes.
Mokonyane said she was looking forward to seeing Itirele-Zenzele Secondary school become one of the top schools in Gauteng. She said its progress would be reviewed in June.
Parents must be involved
The premier called on parents to play an active role in the education system.
"Parents must frequently visit schools to check on the overall running [of the school] and the progress of their children."
The school was initially situated about 5km south of Diepsloot in a bushy area near the upmarket Dainfern housing estate.
Spokesperson for the Gauteng education department Charles Phahlane said the relocation was intended to ease the burden faced by the pupils.
"They were risking their lives by crossing the busy R511 road to catch buses and travel to school.
"Some of them were arriving at school late and we hope their challenges are now over," he said.
Earlier in the day before Mokonyane arrived, parents and pupils were searched as they filed through the gates of the newly-built school.
The 10 community members manning the gates searched the people for weapons, drugs, and anything else which could disrupt the first day back at school.
After the premier left, many people lingered around the school's premises and shared jokes, while agreeing about the importance of education.