Lessons go on as school cleans up after fire

2016-02-03 11:01
Richlea primary school teacher Mduduzi Ndlovu, who teaches Mathematics and Natural Science to Grade?7 pupils, cleans up his classroom after it was gutted by fire last week.

Richlea primary school teacher Mduduzi Ndlovu, who teaches Mathematics and Natural Science to Grade?7 pupils, cleans up his classroom after it was gutted by fire last week. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Gutted by a fire more than a week ago, all efforts are being made to resume normal teaching at the Richlea Primary School in Richmond.

With three classrooms and the school’s administration office blackened by flames, which burnt high enough to tear through the ceilings, alternate arrangements had to be made for pupils to continue classes outside the school premises.

A heap of ashy debris is all that stands where another small structure, which housed Grade R pupils, was also burnt to the ground.

Three days after the incident on Saturday, January 23, Education Department officials, in conjunction with the Richmond municipality and various other community stakeholders, started sourcing available community structures to house the pupils.

Grade 6 and 7 pupils were mostly affected by the fire, which police believe was started by arsonists.

The pupils are now being taught at the Richmond community centre and the hall of a Catholic church, which are both located near the school, until the classrooms can be fixed or replaced.

Education Department spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa told The Witness that while classes are taking place as normal, the department is in the process of securing mobile classrooms.

“Other pupils are housed at the nearby church while others are at the municipal hall. Others are occupying classrooms that were not burnt,” he said.

The Witness visited the school yesterday and found some teachers, parents and school governing body (SGB) members sifting through the debris for anything of value while cleaning out the mess.

One teacher, who asked not to be named, said many of the school’s resources were lost to the fire.

“We lost what little computers, printers and office equipment we had. We lost some textbooks, stationery and other learning equipment, but luckily the pupils take their books home with them so not all was lost.

“It is a very bad start to the year and I cannot imagine why anyone would do this when their own brothers, sisters and children come to this school.”

A case of arson is currently being investigated by the Richmond police. No arrests have been made thus far.

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  school  |  fire

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