Conflict develops

2018-02-06 06:00

Claremont High School has revealed its plans to expand the school to create more space in an attempt to improve the level of education at the school.

The school, which is located in Molteno Road, is known for its excellence in Mathematics and ­Science.

The school’s deputy principal, Natalie Niekerk, says they have plans to rezone the school and they have already undergone the process of applying for rezoning with the City of Cape Town, which she says has been approved.

Niekerk says that negotiations are now underway with the Department of Public Works and the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) regarding the demolition and construction work.

She could not give the time-frames for the work, but says there are identified demolition companies that are due to start work soon.

Niekerk says the school saw the need to expand its infrastructure after realising the growth in demand and evaluating their ­opportunities.

According to Niekerk, the rezoning will see the school occupying the “neglected” site of the former Barkley House, Barkly House Pre-primary and Greenfield Girls’ Primary schools.

Niekerk says the plan is to create a comfortable, well-equipped learning environment.

“Once all the construction work is done, we will have a sports field to allow learners to discover their potential beyond the classrooms. We will have a big hall in which to accommodate parents and host events, and we want to also build another Science lab.

“Though we are known as a Mathematics and Science school, we are not well equipped – we only have one lab, which is not enough for our learners. We will also add more classrooms to be able to accommodate 650 learners instead of our current 500 maximum,” says Niekerk.

However, the plans have received a mixed response from the community.

While some see it as a selfless gesture of providing a better education for many, some worry about the safety of the learners due to the social ills in effect in the nearby areas.

These include the presence of sex workers, drug use and robberies in Hatfield Road, where the new main entrance will be located after the developments.

In response, Niekerk says the school has already managed to minimise the exposure of learners to such activities and will also work on a plan to improve their security system and work with local authorities.

Expressing her concern, Debbie Wall Smith says: “Having a school with beautiful young women a few hundred metres from where sex workers trade openly during school hours is deeply concerning. Secondly, there is a department of public works building immediately next door that has been vacant and derelict for years, with all kinds of anti-social behaviour going on in the building. The last problem is, where will the water come from for building and for the additional learners?

Meanwhile, Guy Harris says rezoning and development plans are a brilliant idea. He says the school is already excelling and many parents want to place their children at this school but are prevented from doing so due to a lack of space.

He adds: “Good schools are catalytic for the community. Claremont High is very young but has had a student or two in the top 20 Cape schools. 
“They will have great potential to achieve even higher and this is much needed, as learners come from around the Peninsula. The school has a much wider impact than just in Claremont.”

Some members of the community have already called for objections, which need to be submitted by Tuesday 12 February.

Spokesperson for the WCED, Jessica Shelver, says school infrastructure remains a priority for government as it seeks to keep up with the growing demand in the province and also replace buildings that were built with inappropriate materials. 

In the current financial year, the WCED invested R1.7 bn towards school infrastructure, with more than R57m being approved for the Claremont High development.

She says the demolition application was approved and they are currently in the tender evaluation stage.

“A preliminary estimate is that on-site work should commence within the next six months; however this is dependent on our implementing agent finalising the awarding of the contract. The timelines for the expansion classrooms to be built onto the existing school will then be finalised,” says Shelver

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