Parents ‘fed up’ with delay

2018-01-23 13:30
Parents protesting outside Umsilinga Primary School on Monday. They want answers on why a new building is not in use yet.

Parents protesting outside Umsilinga Primary School on Monday. They want answers on why a new building is not in use yet. (Nokuthula Khanyile)

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Teachers at Umsilinga Primary School in Copesville arrived on Monday to find several angry parents protesting outside the school.

Parents, joined by their children, refused them entry in the hope that the KZN Education Department would allow pupils to start using the newly-constructed school building.

Concerned parents told The Witness that mobile classrooms that were currently being used by pupils have become dilapidated and posed a health risk.

They brandished posters with slogans such as, “Our Kids are Stacked in Classes” and “We Demand the New Building” and said they were “fed up” with waiting.

One of the parents, Nokuthula Zondi, said they had been waiting seven years for the new building to be completed.

In the interim their children were crammed in dilapidated mobile classrooms cluttered with litter.

Zondi said most of the classrooms were without windows, desks, blackboards and even basic stationery.

There are large holes in the wooden floors that the children use as makeshift rubbish-bins.

“Pupils and teachers are being forced to use mobile toilets that have not been emptied for a while and they are contracting infections,” said Zondi.

The parents said the completion of the new school — originally scheduled to finish in April last year — was moving at a snail’s pace. The project had been allocated R36 million.

“There will be no teaching and learning until the Department of Education listens to our concerns,” parents shouted outside the school.

A member of the School Governing Body (SGB), who did not want to be named, said: “We have run out of patience. Schools in the area that were built before Umsi­linga have long been completed. We want to know what the hold-up is. Our children are getting sick and no one is giving us a definite answer. Why is it taking so long for this school to get completed?”

He said they were told at a meeting with KZN Education officials in August that construction would be complete in October.

“In October they postponed again and told us everything will be done in January. Now they are telling us June. We are not accepting that. We want our children to go into the new classrooms this week,” added another parent, Thandiwe Gwala.

Gwala said the company in charge of the construction had told them they did not have a certificate of operation and that the sewage and water lines have not been connected.

KZN Education spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said: “We are doing everything we can to liaise with our officials from infrastructure to find out why there has been a delay.

“We ask parents to please be patient as this is not happening deliberately.”

One of the dilapidated mobile classrooms being used by pupils.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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