Education Department closes ‘unsafe’ satellite school, leaving 140 pupils stranded

2011-11-24 00:00

WHILE schools in KwaZulu-Natal are writing end-of-the-year exams, the 140 pupils of eMazungeni Primary in Nquthu have been left stranded since their mud-built classrooms were closed “because conditions are unsafe and not conducive to effective teaching and learning”.

The KZN Education Department announced the closure without providing a solution.

The plight of the Grade R to Grade 6 pupils fell under the spotlight during the recent sitting of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) at Nquthu sports ground.

The school is a satellite of Nhlabamkhosi Primary, 15 km away.

Immediately after The Witness published the story earlier this month, KZN Education MEC Senzo Mchunu launched an investigation into the satellite school and called for its immediate closure. He said that according to the report of the investigating team, the authority to operate the satellite school was granted by the former principal of Nhlabamkhosi, who has since retired. He deployed three teachers to eMazungeni.

“During the NCOP sitting, pupils [taken out of Nhlabamkhosi school] were instructed to remain at the site and await the arrival of NCOP members … Conditions at the site were found to be unsafe and not conducive to effective teaching and learning. The community was advised to close the alleged satellite school with immediate effect and advised to apply for registration of the school through proper procedures.”

Mchunu said the pupils will have to continue classes at Nhlabamkhosi.

A parent of a Grade R pupil, Nomtshezi Sangweni, said the hope created by the NCOP sitting has been dashed because the children have been missing out on school.

“There is no development in sight, she said, “and our children are just sitting at home. They cannot walk to the next school because it is too far.”

One of the school’s teachers, Buzani Zulu, a volunteer, said they do not know what to do. The children are still coming to school, he said, but they cannot teach them.

A local inkosi, Joseph Zakhele Jiyane, said the department should at least provide transport for the pupils or build a temporary facility.

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