School gets R75m facelift

2019-04-23 06:00
Deputy principal and principal of Harmony Primary School, Vaughn Adriaanse and Eunice Manasse. PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

Deputy principal and principal of Harmony Primary School, Vaughn Adriaanse and Eunice Manasse. PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

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Harmony Primary School will be replaced by a newly-built structure over the upcoming 18 months.

Bronagh Hammond, spokesperson for the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), explained: “Commencement of on-site construction work is due to commence the end of April. The cost of the building is about R75m (which is aligned with the average cost for replacement of an existing primary school).”

According to Hammond and the school’s deputy principal, Vaughn Adriaanse, the school was previously constructed of inappropriate [prefab] materials, and is otherwise known as a “plankie school”.

Currently, there is only one brick-and-mortar structure at the school, which was donated, and the rest of the school is constructed of prefab material.

Hammond elaborated: “The WCED is aware that some of our schools are built with inappropriate materials. These are schools built during the apartheid era. That is why we are, in addition to maintenance programmes and building new schools, trying to replace these structures completely. We prioritise this, despite increased pressure for new schools and financial pressure.”

The school will therefore be replaced with a complete brick-and-mortar structure.

It currently accommodates about 782 learners and the new school is set to cater for 930 learners. “The idea is to cater for growth,” Adriaanse said.

He explained that the temporary solution to continue classes during construction is to use a rotational system for class occupation during each phase.

The Foundation Phase will see the construction of nine classrooms for Grades 1 to 3. Following that, the Intermediate Phase will see another nine classrooms being built for Grades 4 to 6 and the Senior Phase will allow for the construction of three classrooms for Grade 7 learners. A school hall, science laboratory and sports field are also part of the plan for the new school.

Eunice Manasse, principal of Harmony Primary School, expressed her excitement at the plans for the new school. She said that she is confident that it will bring new energy to the school.

Adriaanse elaborated: “I think it will be a new environment – out with the old and in with the new – and immediately it will have a positive impact. It’s a new school so you’ll have the children coming here with a new attitude because it will have a new feel. With a new feel, behaviour improves, attendance improves and they’re motivated to learn.”

Since 2012, WCED has replaced 65 “plankie schools” in the province.

“The WCED prioritises schools for replacement in terms of needs based on the existing structure, however, we cannot do all of them in one go.

“It is a backlog that we are determined to decrease,” said Hammond.

“Unfortunately, we do not have the funds, or the manpower, to do it at the rate that some people demand. We are however prioritising it and are spending roughly R400 million a year to do so. In addition, over R500 million is spent on maintenance each year, and R600 million for new schools,” she concluded.


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