Parkwood stalemate looms

2019-03-05 06:00

Residents in Parkwood are poised to take increased action on Friday 8 March in response to the level of engagement they have been having with the Western Cape Department of Education (WCED).

Disgruntled parents and residents near Parkwood Primary School picketed outside the premises last month, demanding the upgrade of the school, among other things (“Picketers’ ultimatum”, People’s Post, 12 February).

A memorandum of demands was collected by Thandi Jafta, circuit manager for Metro South Education District of the WCED.

The department have since further engaged with the concerned group of residents.

“The WCED has a 10 year infrastructure plan and they are aiming to address the accommodation needs of specific communities and priorities in terms of structural and other concerns,” said WCED head of communications Bronagh Hammond.

Community leader in Parkwood, Paul Phillips was not satisfied with the response from the WCED, even after their meeting last week.

“In 2015, there was an initial inspection done at the school of which nobody can give feedback or a response on.

“We were supposed to get a copy of the report yesterday, but that did not materialise,” says Phillips.

He adds that the WCED have told them interim measures are being sought, but they their demand for the full upgrade of Parkwood Primary School still stands.

“We want the department to come out clearly to say what are the future plans for the schools in the area, because there are also developments around Montague Gift,” adds Phillips.

Hammond says there are many factors which have to be considered before making a decision to upgrade or build a new school in any community or when a school’s need for upgrade is escalated.

“This list is reviewed each year, taking the above into consideration. that is, one community may expand significantly in a rapid amount of time and therefore one area could be prioritised over another,” she says.

Phillips feels that temporary maintenance measures will only further delay the process of the upgrade of the school.

“We want the school to be on the priority list within the foreseeable future, if not within the next financial year at least to see how they can come up with a plan, because our kids are being placed at risk.

“The school is in a poor state,” says Phillips.

As a result, he adds schools in the area have been “mobilised” to take further action.

“We will shut down Parkwood Primary School on 8 March and demand that the department address final demand, which is very simple, rebuild our schools and stop gambling with our children’s future and lives,” Phillips adds.

Meanwhile, Hammond concluded by stating the district office for the WCED in the area is aware of the concerns raised by Parkwood residents, but that continued protesting will do little to change the plans already in place.

“We cannot, however, prioritise schools over others as a result of protests.

“We have to use information at our disposal to determine where the greatest needs are in terms of accommodation demands and safety,” explains Hammond.

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