Vuwani picks up the pieces at a hefty price tag

2016-05-24 16:14
A pupil from the Maligana Secondary School cleans a classroom damaged by arsonists. (Supplied to News24)

A pupil from the Maligana Secondary School cleans a classroom damaged by arsonists. (Supplied to News24)

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Cape Town - The department of basic education bought 76 mobile classrooms at a cost of R245 000 each to get teaching back on track in Vuwani after the devastation caused by a demarcation protest, Parliament's portfolio committee on basic education heard on Tuesday.

It cost another R31 000 for the urgent delivery of each classroom after a disaster was declared on May 10, acting head of department Beauty Mutheiwana said.

Seventy-three have already been delivered and another three could arrive as soon as Tuesday night.

They would be guarded at a cost of R3.1m for three months. That is R9565.92 per armed guard for day shift per month and R9775.70 per armed guard for night shift per month. Unarmed guards had also been arranged to secure the emergency replacements.

One hundred and twenty parolees had joined communities in an extensive clean-up operation to remove the rubble and debris. This included the painstaking job of removing shards of glass left in the broken window panes of schools that got off "lightly".

Desks, chairs and basic equipment for the 27 schools that were torched or vandalised would cost R18.8m. This includes photocopiers at R17 000 each, R10 000 each for a computer (two per school) and R15 000 each for a printer (two per school). Paired desks with two chairs would cost around R1 000 a set. It would cost an estimated R100 per textbook replacement for 10 000 pupils.

103 schools affected

Fifty five tablets loaded with all the subjects offered would be distributed to 11 high schools which lost all their teaching materials just weeks before crucial matric exams were due to start.

The latest count by all those working on the ground in the region, is that 103 schools were affected.

Not all were torched or vandalised, but they were forced to close because pupils and teachers were too scared to go to school after being threatened. At least three independent schools were also affected. 

A ray of hope through all of the devastation was the recovery of the academic records of 20 high schools who had loaded their information onto the SA Schools Administration and Management System.

Schooling has still not resumed in all areas and at least 14 full teaching days have been lost so far. The department has plans to set goals for schools to reach to catch up on lost time.

Portfolio committee chairperson Nomalungelo Gina was worried that there wasn't a strong enough message sent out to condemn the damage.

No mercy

"Even the justice system must be merciless to people who destroy state property," she said.

Basic education director general Mathanzima Mweli also pleaded with the committee as lawmakers to make sure the justice system showed no mercy to people who damaged schools.

The protests came after an application by the Masia Traditional Council to set aside the Municipal Demarcation Board's decision on the establishment of a new municipality in the Vhembe district was dismissed by the Limpopo High Court on April 29.

A wave of violent protests started after a task team was disbanded and areas in Mashau, Masakona, Doli, Masia, Bungeni and Vyeboom saw roads blocked and even police patrols attacked.

The Minister of Co-operative Governance Des van Rooyen, State Security Minister David Mahlobo and Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu were sent to stabilise the situation.

Crowdsourcing drive

Numerous community meetings have been held and the mayor of Vhembe declared a local disaster on May 10, releasing funding for emergencies.

At least 52 827 pupils were affected by the protests and wider shutdowns which started on May 2. 

In addition to the government's assistance, the National Education Collaboration Trust has started a crowdsourcing initiative to get schools back on track.

Specific needs include building materials for classrooms that can still be salvaged, desks and chairs, computers, photocopy machines, projectors and bookshelves. Tshivenda and Xitsonga readers, textbooks, and study guides were also needed.

More information can be found on http://nect.org.za/.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has estimated that it would eventually cost around R750m for a complete recovery.

Read more on:    polokwane  |  protests  |  education

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