New school lauded

2014-01-16 00:00

THE brand new Hayfields Primary School in Foxon Road opened its doors for the first time yesterday. Traffic was a bit of a nightmare, the school grounds were far from ready and worst of all, there were not enough teachers.

But complaints are thin on the ground and there is an air of determination, as retired teacher volunteer Janella Coyne said, “We are going to make it work”.

Coyne and others will play their part but, says a husband of one of the volunteers who did not want to be named, the department needs to fulfil its function and supply teachers and much-needed stationery.

Until this happens, the community has stepped in to ensure that the needed school opened.

A large handwritten welcome sign greeted parents and new pupils as secretarial staff worked like Trojans in a sparsely furnished office.

By 8 am there was little evidence of the earlier frenzied excitement. Children were in their classes and there was a hush over the school.

Even the Grade Rs and the Grade Ones were upbeat with hardly a tear shed.

Parents began arriving shortly before 7 am, with cars parked everywhere.

There was some irritation from the surrounding neighbours about vehicles on the pristine lawns in front of their houses. They said they would allow this for a day or two before speaking to the school about their verges being no-go parking areas.

Layton Howard, who lives in the area, is concerned about the traffic. He believes the situation may ease in the months ahead as more children begin walking to school, but says early morning traffic is so heavy in the area, that having a traffic officer on duty would help.

Parent Pinky Mkhize got out of her car a bit breathless. She had her three daughters, Langelihle (12), Asibonga (9) and Sisanda (8), to drop off.

Beaming proudly at how smart they looked in their grey skirts and white shirts, she made a few hasty adjustments before marching them through the school gates.

For Mkhize the school is a godsend as she lives nearby.

Roland Wardle had just dropped off his sons, Brandon (5) and Devon (7). He couldn’t believe how well the admission process went and that he was in and out sharply.

Wardle hails from Kokstad and his company had sent him to manage an office in Pietermaritzburg.

“When I was looking for schools, I was told to apply here as the principal was good,” he said.

By 8.20 am, principal Olwyn Niemand was desperately looking for somewhere to sit, while she and community leader, the Reverend Siya Ngidi of the nearby St Matthew’s Church, assessed the morning’s events.

“It went smoothly, really smoothly,” Niemand said. “There was a wonderful response from the parents, don’t you think, Reverend Ngidi?”

“Yes, our prayers were answered,” Ngidi said. “Nothing went wrong. We thought the admissions would go on for most of the morning, but it is just after 8 am and there is a lovely silence in the school. There were a lot of prayers behind the scenes that the opening of the school would go well,” he said.

According to Ngidi, the Hayfields Ministers’ Forum had decided to adopt the school.

He said there were 15 ministers in the forum and as a start, each church would donate an indigenous tree to plant in the school grounds.

Education Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said they were well aware of the teacher shortage at the new Hayfields school and this was being dealt with as a matter of priority.

Education ministry representatives at the school, Charles Ngcobo and Gabriel Mngoma, said they were disappointed that the contractors were still on site and the grounds were not quite complete.

They lauded the community spirit of those who had stepped in to ensure that the school opened.

“Normally people grumble and focus on the negative, but here you have the community embracing the school,” Ngcobo said.

He was certain that the traffic glitches and other problems would be sorted out.

“We will listen to the teachers and the governing body. They will be our eyes and ears to making this school work,” he added.

Janella Coyne, a volunteer at the school, has compiled a wish-list of their needs and is asking for donations from the public.

These include books for the library, a first aid kit, skipping ropes, bedding for the sick room — there are two beds for the boys and two for the girls — frisbees, soccer balls and a swingball for the after-care. These can be dropped off at the school. For more details e-mail 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.

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