Stalemate on school continues

2019-02-07 06:00
Hundreds of learners from Mfuleni marching on the streets demanding the Department of Education to build new schools.PHOTOS: UNATHI OBOSE

Hundreds of learners from Mfuleni marching on the streets demanding the Department of Education to build new schools.PHOTOS: UNATHI OBOSE

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Irate learners and parents from schools around Mfuleni took to the streets last Friday to demand the building of new schools in the area, in order to accommodate pupils who are on the waiting list.

Hundreds of learners from both primary and high schools in the area shut down all the schools, forcing learners to vacate their desk, in solidarity with pupils who still require placement.

City Vision reported on the plight of learners at Fairydale Primary and High School, who did not have a venue to study and were placed in the local community hall and clinic(City Vision, 31 January, “Imfuna-lwazi ebaphosa le na le”).

And last Friday, parents also joined in the fray, moving from each school, disrupting classes, coercing learners to join the march.

Affected schools were Bardale primary and high shool, Mfuleni primary and high school, Tsista primary, Nalikamva primary, Nyameko primary, Manzomthombo high and Parliament primary.

Mandilive Dyasophu (15) a Grade 10 learner at Mfuleni High School, said this was only the beginning of a rolling mass action looming on the horizon if the Department of Education did not respond to their grievances.

“We want all the children who require placement to be in classes. We want the department to build schools for them now. And we won’t stop protesting till the officials come to us,” said Dyasophu.

She admitted to not being proud of what they were doing but were forced to do so by the department.

Brenda Mkokeli, a parent from Extension 6 said the department has been promising to build them schools since 2016 but nothing has happened.

“When we applied for our children last year, we informed that the schools were full and our children were put on the waiting list.

Then the department promised to build both primary and high schools in Fairydale in Silversands. Then later the department proposed to take our children to Elsiesriver while they would be busy building these two schools, which option we refused,” said Mkokeli.

She added that the department said the construction of a primary school will commence this year in April and the high school in October.

Mkokeli said their concerns as parents was what their children would be doing during school hours.

Debbie Schafer, MEC for Education in the Western Cape, said in a statement she met with the Mfuleni Education Forum, Mfuleni Development Forum, City councillors and Education officials.

“All the parties expressed commitment to resolving any issues and disputes in the best interest of the learners. It appears that we were misled,” said Schafer.

She said the Education Department proposed that the primary school learners will platoon at the nearby primary school until the WCED has built the new primary school on the Fairydale site in Silversands.

“The Metro North Education District in collaboration with the Mfuleni Development Forum also agreed to platoon the high school children as a temporary measure, until the mobile school is erected on Erf 1.

The new Silversands site can however accommodate all high school learners but people are refusing to send their children there,” she said.

Schafer said the Silversands project is 75 % complete and has already cost the department over R10million.

She stated that the project has been delayed a number of times due to community protests.

She stressed that they cannot allow individuals from communities to disrupt schooling and prevent learners from attending school to further their own interests.

“I call on the communities, the parents of learners whose schooling has been disrupted and those who seek placement for their children to work with the WCED to ensure that the learners who are seeking placement can be accommodated at school as soon as possible.

Mfuleni Development Forum chairperson Sicelo Jama confirmed a meeting with the Education Department

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