No chairs, no desks at Siqongweni

2016-04-20 06:00
Siqongweni pupils sit on desks because most of the chairs have been stolen. PHOTO: nqobile mtolo

Siqongweni pupils sit on desks because most of the chairs have been stolen. PHOTO: nqobile mtolo

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THE theft of chairs and desks at Siqongweni Secondary School in Imbali Unit 13 has forced pupils­ to fight for chairs in class while others have to stand for lessons.

Maritzburg Echo reporter visited the school and in one classroom pupils were seated on old tables that were used for woodwork, which used to be a subject on the school curriculum.

Out of a group of 35, only five pupils had chairs and there were only 11 desks for the entire group. This is the scenario faced by each classroom at Siqongweni because the school is short of 300 chairs and desks.

The thugs who steal from the school climb onto the roof to get inside, thereby damaging the ceiling, and then they steal school equipment. The desks and chairs have allegedly been seen in township taverns and residential homes.

School principal, Johannes Dlamini, said the situation is already out of control.

Not only do many pupils not have chairs or desks, they also don’t have the opportunity of learning computer skills because some years ago the Department of Communication donated 22 computers to the school, but these have also been stolen, which has resulted in the school not offering computer training.

“We are waiting for allocation of funds around April and May. We have to buy chairs, but they will steal them again. We alert the police about the theft, but we are not winning. I ask businesses to buy chairs and donate them to the school,” he said.

The situation is worse during exams­ and pupils take turns to sit to write exams because they are normally divided into morning and afternoon groups.

The morning session is for Grade 8 and Grade 9 pupils and the afternoon session is for Grade 10 and Grade 11 pupils.

“Pupils at the school come from informal areas around Imbali - Imbali Phase Four, France, KwaNyamazane and Mantshaheni. Our pupils are missing out on a lot. Printers have also been stolen and the school is not well resourced,” said Dlamini.

He appealed to the public to report to the school should they see school chairs and school desks being used outside the school.

“We need help with chairs. Even if they are second-hand chairs, we do not mind. What makes us happy is that through all these challenges, our pupils are eager to learn because they still come to school and our teachers and staff are more than dedicated to take the pupils to the next level in education,” he said.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said since schools are public institutions, the public is responsible for looking after them.

“Schools are essentially public institutions and it is equally the responsibility of the public to ensure that our schools are safe.

“It goes without saying that these incidents worry us as a department. As much as we provide schools with security guards within a limited budget, we do not believe that security guards are a panacea to all the problems of safety in our schools, hence we say that school safety should be the responsibility of everyone,” he said.

“We are waiting for allocation of funds around April and May. We have to buy chairs, but they will steal them again. We alert the police about the theft, but we are not winning’

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