Hundreds cram into a class

2015-01-21 00:00

FIVE hundred children in four ­classrooms.

As thousands of pupils return to schools across the province today, five-year-old Kholeka Mduba will fight for her place on the dusty floor of ­Vimbukhalo Primary School, set in the foothills of the central Drakensberg.

At Vimbukhalo, more than a hundred pupils from different grades can share the same class.

The provincial average for pupil:teacher ratio in 2012 was 31,2:1 according to Education For All’s 2013 country progress report.

Weathered desks, far outnumbered by hopeful children, stand like islands in the Vimbukhalo classrooms.

With no lights and no water, the rural school is at the bottom of the chasm that separates those who have from those who don’t.

Yesterday, neatly dressed Kholeka and her proud mother, Thuli Gumede (38), walked for an hour-and-a-half to register for Grade 1.

Although the pair were excited, ­Gumede said several promises had been made by various government ­departments to rebuild the school. The most recent was last year, when officials from the Department of Education ­visited the school and promised to ­rebuild it.

A year later nothing has ­happened.

“This is a good school but there is so much wrong with it. There aren’t enough chairs and desks for the ­children,” said Gumede.

Despite the school’s condition ­Gumede and her daughter were excited to be starting school today. “I used some of my grant money to buy her a new shirt and tie. A neighbour donated the school shoes because I couldn’t ­afford to buy new ones,” she said.

Gogo Thuleleni Dladla (59) said the community wants answers.

“This school is in a really bad state. When it rains, children come back covered in mud because they sit on the dusty floor,” said Dladla.

She said even though it is a no-fee school, “the children deserve better”.

“Last year there was a strike and the Department of Education came to the area and promised to build us a new school but nothing has happened,” said Dladla.

Ntombi Ndaba (52) said the community have no choice but to send their children to the school because it is the only school in the area.

“Five hundred children are crammed into four classrooms, there are three ­different grades sharing one classroom and the grade ones use a neighbour’s house as a classroom. It’s really bad,” said Ntambi.

Education spokesperson Muzi ­Mahlambi said education head ­Nkosinathi Sishi visited the school last year and decided that the school needed to be rebuilt.

“We promised to bring them prefabs and we did. We are going to start the reconstruction in the new financial year because there is no way that we can ­salvage the school,” said Mahlambi.

Department of Transport spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said MEC Willies Mchunu visited the school last year as part of the ­legislature’s Schools Functionality Monitoring programme.

“As the Uthukela District champion, the MEC went there and discovered that there was overcrowding in the school.

“He informed the Department of ­Education and they followed up on the matter and the Department of Education promised to build a new school,” said Ncalane.

He said in the process of constructing a new school, the Department of Public Works discovered that the land that the school was situated on belonged to a family in the community.

“The family asked to be compensated and the department did not have that money and that is why the project has stalled. The department is still in talks with the parties involved.

“The MEC made no such promise [to rebuild the school], he only outlined the various processes that were going to take place in the community,” said Ncalane.


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.