Parents protest, demand new school

2017-11-15 06:00
Protesting parents of Woodlands Primary School pupils outside the school on Monday. PHOTO: makhosandile zulu

Protesting parents of Woodlands Primary School pupils outside the school on Monday. PHOTO: makhosandile zulu

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PARENTS of pupils at Woodlands Primary protested outside the school on Monday, locking pupils and staff outside the premises demanding the Department of Education build a new school.

The parents were angry about the department’s alleged “broken promise” to build a new school to replace the current one that has asbestos roofing and structure.

According to the protesters, the provincial DoE infrastructure department told parents at a meeting that a site would be handed over on July 5, however, this did not take place.

Parents said R45 million was budgeted by the DoE to build a new school that was meant to have been completed in the 2016/2017 financial year.

Parents have threatened to close down the school at the start of the 2018 academic year should the DoE not give an update on the progress of the construction of the new school.

The parents want a new school because asbestos, which the current school is made of, is a health hazard.

“This school is actually a hazard to our children because it is made from asbestos, and we want the department to build a new school or our children will get sick,” said the parent of a Grade 5 pupil.

He said he also attended the school and is astonished it is still the same even though it is commonly known that asbestos is a danger to those exposed to it.

The walls in the pupils’ toilets are damaged, some have holes, others are falling apart and part of a roof of a classroom was damaged during recent storms.

One teacher, who asked not to be named as they are not authorised to speak to the media, said: “Since asbestos was condemned years ago, legal action should be taken against the department [education].”

Other teachers claim that since joining the school they have experienced breathing difficulties and other chest-related health issues, which has hiked their medical bills.

The ward councillor, Shawn Adkins, who was also protesting, said in a statement: “The situation at Woodlands Primary School is very critical. The provincial education department had promised a site handover at the beginning of July.

“However, despite our numerous requests for feedback it appears that the process has inexplicably stalled.

“The untold harmful effects of asbestos on pupils, teachers and the community is yet to be uncovered.

“It appears that community members have now run out of patience about the matter.”

The Maritzburg Fever contacted the Department of Education for comment, but spokesperson Shile Mlotshwa could not be reached.

He was however quoted in The Witness saying:“We understand their [parents] anger, but they should not disturb teaching and learning.”

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