The schools Zuma must visit

2010-02-14 12:15

AS President Jacob Zuma begins his school inspection drive he

should visit Rwantsana Junior Secondary School. He would be shocked.

Its almost 40°C and its not even midday. Sitting in the scorching

sun are more than 400 learners.

Teachers give lessons with chalk in one hand and umbrellas in the


It’s so hot it is difficult to breathe. The heat from the

hard-baked earth burns through the soles of the ­thickest shoes. Sweat drips

from the faces of pupils as they try to follow lessons.

There are few intact desks so three to four pupils share one. Books

overlap, jostling hands make for ­untidy, almost illegible notes.

Those who don’t have desks ­balance their notebooks on their


Pupils lick their dry lips constantly. Many sit listlessly, their

eyes glazed over.

A few grade Rs, desperate to get away from the relentless heat

climb into a mangled wreck of desks and other debris lying in a corner in search

of shade.

The teachers leave them to it.

A few pieces of blackboard are propped up by whatever means

possible and it is on these that teachers write out their lessons.

This is how teaching has been taking place at the school in the

Emacwerheni district, about 200km from Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, after a

tornado ravaged the school in ­December last year.

School principal Kholekile Mtati was in hospital with kidney

failure when he received the news about his school.

Nearby residents initially opened their homes to pupils and

teachers so lessons could commence. They withdrew their hospitality because the

school was taking too long to get back on its feet.

Rwantsana is not the only school in the province that has been

damaged by tornadoes.

Loyiso Pulumani, spokesperson for the Eastern Cape education

department, says at last count there were 61 schools – with 25 identified as the


‘‘People may feel they are being ignored but we are aware of the

problems they are facing ,’’ he says.

During his state of the nation ­address this week, which focused on

improving education, Zuma said government would test for basic ­numeracy and

literacy in Grades 3, 6 and 9. It’s almost guaranteed that the children in the

“tornado schools” will not pass.

Join the conversation! 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. 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

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


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 network.


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.