Mud hut school crammed with 140 pupils leaves NCOP chair angry

2011-11-10 00:00

“IT’S a disgrace that years after democracy, our children are still learning under these conditions.”

National Council of Provinces (NCOP) chairperson Mninwa Mahlangu was reacting after seeing the state of eMazungeni Primary School in Nquthu, northern KwaZulu Natal, where 140 pupils in grades R to six are squeezed into a two-room mud building.

Mahlangu said angrily, “Our children suffered under apartheid and now they are still suffering. I apologise to you for our government’s slow pace to resolve such situations …”

Mahlangu and his delegation struggled through rough roads to reach the school.From a distance it is easy to mistake the school for a mud hut, and then you see children in uniforms seated on grass mats or small plastic chairs.

The corrugated-iron roof is collapsing because mites have destroyed the supporting wooden beams.

A teacher and her pupils were sweating in the classroom as temperatures reached 38ºC yesterday.

One of the school’s four teachers, Buzani Zulu, said they had been learning in these conditions for the past five years.

“The school is a satellite of Nhlabamkhosi Primary School about 15 kilometres away.

“We had to establish these classes because children as young as five years old had to travel the 15 km each day to reach the nearest school.

“We hope one day the government will build us a decent school,”

Zulu said that since the school teaches several grades, pupils wait outside the classrooms for their turn while a class is being taught.

Mahlangu said it is disappointing that children are forced to learn under worse circumstance than those during the days of apartheid.

He noted that similar situations exist in schools in other parts of the country.

“This building is not suitable for learning.

“I will make sure that I speak to the relevant department to ensure that the building of the new school is sped up. I will fight with you to ensure that this is resolved,” Mahlangu said.

Local traditional leader inkosi Joseph Zakhele Jiyane, who took Mahlangu to the school, said he hopes the building of the new school will begin next year.

He said he has already approached the Education Department with the request.

“The site for the new school has been identified and we hope that by this time next year our children will be learning under different circumstances,” Jiyane said.

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