What waste looks like: Mud school dreams

2013-11-24 14:00

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Adumodwa Mshweleni (13) is an ambitious Grade 6 pupil at Samson Senior Primary School in the Eastern Cape district of Libode.

She dreams of becoming a social worker, moving to the city and supporting her family.

But Adumodwa, like her 227 schoolmates, attends a school consisting of four mud rondavels and three corrugated iron classrooms.

In July, she and her classmates were lucky it was the weekend when their mud classroom collapsed.

She now has to learn in an “umkhukhu”, a corrugated iron structure, with no windows or doors.

Her school has no toilets and children have to relieve themselves in the bushes while teachers beg neighbours to use theirs.

All their classroom furniture is broken. Adumodwa has no desk to write on.

She says the R208 million spent on President Zuma’s Nkandla home could have improved not only her school, but others nearby.

“This is not a place for children to learn. In this umkhukhu we are very cold when the weather is cold. When it’s hot it becomes very hot inside and when it rains we get wet and our books too,” she says.

“We feel that government should build us a new school with proper facilities like libraries and other nice things. The president should help us. We are his children too.”

Child-rights organisation Equal Education says until April this year, of the Eastern Cape’s 5 676 public schools, 395 were mud schools,

5 465 had no computer centres,

5 508 schools had no libraries, 551 had no toilets and 3 160 used pit latrines. Just over 1?000 had no water and 1 152 had no electricity.

Next week, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga will release a finalised list of norms and standards detailing infrastructure which all the country’s schools should have, including classrooms, toilets, water, electricity and fences.

However, because it will cost R100?billion to improve all schools to this level, government has set itself a deadline of 2030.

Equal Education chairperson Yoliswa Dwane said the long-term targets were “simply not good enough”.

Cameron McConnachie of the Legal Resource Centre, which represented seven Eastern Cape mud schools and successfully sued government for R8.2 billion, said a lot could have been done with the R208?million spent in Nkandla.

“To build a proper school in line with the minimum norms and standards with proper sanitation, libraries and computer labs costs around R15 million. With R206?million, you can build between 13 and 15 schools,” he said.

The Legal Resource Centre will be taking the case of Samson Primary to court soon.

“We visited the school with Equal Education in April and found it appalling. We are close to launching litigation for Samson because we don’t know why government is not building that school,” he said.

Adumodwa, the third of five children, walks 4km to school each day. Her father works as a clerk at Libode’s St Barnabas Hospital.

Her teacher, Nosiphiwo Gcelu, says she is “a bright child with a lot of potential”, but hopes her “uninspiring” learning conditions don’t demoralise her.

Adumodwa is determined to become a social worker.

“I want to help the poor people of South Africa and make a difference in the world.

“The poor are being forgotten,” she said.

Waste not, want not

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