Northdale school vandalised

2009-12-03 00:00

THE dilapidated state of the Esther Payne Smith Secondary School in Northdale due to vandalism and alleged neglect by the Education Department is robbing pupils of studying subjects such as technology and science at the school.

Sources at the school, who spoke to The Witness on condition of anonymity, said that the vandalised state of the school’s premises is preventing the teachers from increasing the intake of pupils and to teach crucial subjects. A member of the student’s governing body (SGB) who requested anonymity, said that the school is forced to offer basic subjects.

According to the sources, the province’s Education Department has neglected their calls for financial support to fix the vandalised classrooms and broken windows. A senior teacher at the school alleged that the school once had a budget to revamp their premises, but they have never seen a cent of that money.

“We are operating under extreme circumstances,” said the teacher.

Democratic Alliance national Member of Parliament Mark Steele said in a statement yesterday that he visited the school last week and found the state of the school to be “distressing”.

“The principal’s office and the staff room are among the last few buildings on this huge school campus that have not yet been vandalised, a word which does not adequately convey the systematic looting and destruction of classrooms, equipment and every piece of electrical wiring that can be ripped out of the walls.”

He said the school should have over 1 000 students — its run-down state means that only 550 have enrolled for next year and the vast majority are from outside the city.

“The KZN Education Department has promised R2,2 million to provide repairs to the school, but so far the Public Works Department has done nothing to implement this decision.”

A brief tour of inspection suggests that this amount will barely cover the cost of fixing the school’s electricity, let alone repairing the walls and ceilings and in some cases even replacing burned-out roofs.

The cost of replacing the specialist classroom equipment which the school once possessed — a library, science laboratory, home economics, and woodwork and metalwork classrooms — will run into millions of rands.

The real scandal is that this destruction of a valuable state asset continues almost on a daily basis at the moment, Steele said.

“The DA will be asking why the local SAPS are not preventing such blatant criminal activity, and why the Education Department has not provided real security for the school campus.”

Departmental spokesman Sihle Mlotshwa said that the school is fully functional and there is no subject that is no longer taught because of vandalism. He added that the district office has put the school on the priority list for repairs and renovation in the infrastructure plan for the 2010/2011 financial year.

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