Children study in middle of Eastern Cape road in protest

2017-02-15 21:47
Learners at Mdeni Senior Secondary School took to the highway today in protest against lack of classrooms. Photo: Palesa Zono, GroundUp

Learners at Mdeni Senior Secondary School took to the highway today in protest against lack of classrooms. Photo: Palesa Zono, GroundUp

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Eastern Cape - A group of Mdeni Senior Secondary School pupils in Alice sat down to study on the R53 road on Wednesday, bringing traffic to a standstill.

They wanted access to new classrooms built at their school. After the protest, the keys were handed over to the school.

Joined by parents, pupils blocked the road between Alice and King William’s Town after a wall at their school collapsed during rain on Tuesday.

They told GroundUp they had been waiting since last year for the Eastern Cape education department to provide classrooms.

Grade 12 pupil Sikelelwa Zidayi said temporary classrooms had been provided, but they could not use them because the construction company refused to hand over the keys.

Eastern Cape Education department spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said the classrooms had not been used because the contractor had not been paid.

“Officials went to the school to sort out the issue and learning has resumed,” he said.

Zidayi said members of the School Governing Body went to the department’s offices in King William’s Town late last year and officials promised to solve the matter.

“They promised to open them on January 31 but that never happened. They kept on giving us empty promises,” said Zidayi.

Parents from the villages of Ncerha, Ngqele, and Balaksini built the school in the 1970s.

Zidayi said the walls were collapsing, the floors were broken, and the roof was leaking.

“Our parents and sisters were students in this school. Now it’s us. The department never maintained it. The school has been like this for years,” she said.

SGB member Mandisa Magaqaza said parents and pupils decided to take action because the department seemed not to care about their grievances.

Even after walls collapsed, they still dragged their feet,” said Magaqaza.

Alice police spokesperson Siya Nontshinga said the protest was peaceful and no arrests were made.

Read more on:    education  |  protests

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