Pupils soldier on in run-down prefabs

2011-03-30 00:00

TERMITE-RAVAGED prefabs, broken windows, exposed electric wires and damaged ceilings — these are the conditions in which pupils are trying to learn at the Khanyisani Lower Primary School in Mpolweni, near Albert Falls.

The temporary buildings that make up the school have been in use for 40 years and are so dilapidated that during winter the teachers and pupils take blankets to school.

The Witness understands that some pupils are admitted to hospital with pneumonia during winter.

A concerned member of the public, who claims to have been a pupil at the school in the 1970s when the school welcomed its first pupils, said she was appalled to see the condition the school was in after a recent visit.

“It’s not that a little has changed, nothing has changed,” said the woman who now works for government.

The Witness understands that the school has been teaching since 1971, but it has never had a permanent building or a fence built.

“All that the Department of Education has ever done over the years was to just renovate the prefabs. We have never had a proper school built here,” said the chairperson of the school governing body, Solo Xulu.

These ancient prefabs are so ravaged by termites that most of the classrooms have had to be patched with planks over the years by parents volunteering their services.

“The holes are so bad that if the planks are removed you can see the teacher’s and the children’s legs as you walk past the school.

“There is high absenteeism in winter because the teachers and pupils get sick,” Xulu said.

The Witness understands that some of the damage is caused by thieves in the community who take advantage of the poor fencing and lack of security.

The school office is a prefab shared by the principal and the clerk. Burglar guards are no deterrent and the school has even had soap stolen.

Xulu said the school has had two computers stolen.

“The teachers have since decided to buy a laptop. They can’t buy anything of value because it will be stolen.”

One of the prefabs, which was in use until December last year, has been declared a no-gone zone after a child was allegedly shocked unconscious after touching an electric appliances.

The teacherspatrol during break time to ensure that young children don’t play there.

The school toilets are also in a mess. While they have cisterns, none can flush.

The school is the only lower primary school in the area. It currently teaches over 600 pupils from grades R to four.

The Education Department was sent a query on Thursday. A follow-up e-mail was sent on Friday. Yesterday the communications office was called to check on the progress of the query, but no response had been received.

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