SGB: ‘We will fight for pupils’ rights’

2019-07-17 06:01
PHOTOS: suppliedChairperson of the Mount Ernestina Combined School governing body, Jeffry Ngobese, with the memorandum of demands.

PHOTOS: suppliedChairperson of the Mount Ernestina Combined School governing body, Jeffry Ngobese, with the memorandum of demands.

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PARENTS and senior leadership of the Mount Ernestina Combined School vowed to continue fighting for the rights of their children until the KZN Department of Education listens to their demands.

On Monday, July 15 a small group of unhappy residents from Muden descended on the office of the MEC of Education in Pietermaritzburg to ask the officials of the department to come and bear witness to the unpleasant learning conditions at the school.

Parents accused the department of deliberately ignoring them.

Unhygienic toilets, overcrowding, lack of teachers (the school has an enrolment of 1 300 pupils with only 40 teachers), and the absence of pupil transport were the main concerns raised in the memorandum.

Chairperson of the school governing body (SGB), Jeffry Ngobese, said that for the past five years the leadership of the SGB and members of the community have attempted to get the district office to address the challenges they face at the school. Ngobese said the matter was also reported to the office of the MEC.

“The Muden area had been earmarked for land restitution, but over the years we have witnessed a massive growth in the population. Pupils are overcrowded in the classrooms at Mount Ernestina Combined as a result of the high population rate in the area.

“Mount Ernestina Combined has pupils from Grade R to Grade 12. According to the government’s programme of transformation, high schools pupils must be separated from the primary schools.

“Due to the overcrowding at the school, teachers work under tremendous pressure and teach pupils in unhygienic conditions.

“Our pit toilets have not been emptied for the past five years. We have reached a stage where pupils and teachers are not able to use the toilets anymore and they have to relieve themselves in the bushes. It’s unhygienic and poses a health risk.

“What is more depressing is the fact that the toilets were built near the classrooms.

Teachers are unable to concentrate due to the unpleasant smell that comes from the toilets. The whole school is in a total mess,” Ngobese said.

Ngobese said poor performance among pupils in lower classes was also a concern.

“Teachers tend to focus on the Grade 12 pupils. In that vein, lower grades are not receiving the proper education they deserve.

“We also need a school bus that will transport the children from their homes to the school. We have been asking the department to provide the pupils with transport for many years, but nothing has happened.

“We decided to march to the office of the MEC to hand over our memorandum,” Ngobese said.

A memorandum was given to the Head of the Department of Education, Vusumuzi Nzama.

The leadership of the SBG engaged with senior officials of the department to pave a way forward.

According to Ngobese, officials from the department agreed to respond to their grievances.

“We have given the department seven days to respond to our grievances. They agreed to come and clean our toilets this week. They also agreed to build a primary school in the area next year.

“With regards the issue of pupil transport, the department assured us that a team will be sent to Muden to conduct an oversight visit.

“We are going to wait for the officials from the department to deliver on their promises.

“We are prepared to take further steps should the department fail to keep their promises,” he added.

Spokesperson for the KZN Department of Education Muzi Mahlambi said: “An urgent notification has been sent to the Department of Public Works and desludging [in the overflowing toilets] will be done by Friday, July 19. Regarding non-teaching staff at the school, there’s a moratorium in the filling of such posts in the province. [Regarding the issue of] transport, the school is on the priority list, awaiting funds to be available.”


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