Parents lock school

2017-11-14 13:26
Residents Leroy Snymen (left), Dalron Beyirs and Rachel Hemmend point to a broken asbestos wall in Woodlands Primary School. The school was built in 1975 as a temporary structure.

Residents Leroy Snymen (left), Dalron Beyirs and Rachel Hemmend point to a broken asbestos wall in Woodlands Primary School. The school was built in 1975 as a temporary structure. (Sabelo Nsele)

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Parents have threatened to shut down Woodlands Primary School if the Education Department does not deliver on its “promise” to rebuild the school.

The school is constructed mostly from asbestos cement.

Exams were temporarily disrupted on Monday as angry parents locked gates for about an hour before eventually letting the pupils and teachers in.

The parents said that if it is not rebuilt before the start of the 2018 school year, they would not allow it to be re-opened.

The school of more than 1 000 pupils was opened in 1975 as a temporary structure.

Parents said the cracked asbestos walls and roof had become a health hazard.

Ward councillor and chairperson of the school governing body Shawn Adkins said the department had failed to deliver on promises made when parents first protested last year.

According to the department’s documentation, dated January 30 and of which The Witness has a copy, R45 million was allocated for the rebuilding of the school.

The tender for the rebuilding of the school was supposed to be advertised in March and the work was meant to begin in July.

“The situation at Woodlands Primary School is very critical. The provincial Education Department had promised a site handover at the beginning of July 2017.

“However, despite our numerous requests for feedback, it appears that the process has inexplicably stalled,” said Adkins. “The untold harmful effects of asbestos on the learners, educators and the community at large is yet to be uncovered. It appears community members have now run out of patience on the matter.”

Parent Dalron Beyirs said many children were suffering from asthma.

“Medical aid bills are shooting up. This school is a hazard to our children simply because the whole school is made out of asbestos, which is an illegal substance,” said Beyirs. “The longer they take to rebuild the school, the sicker our children are going to be.

“I have attended this school here from Grade 1. I am 45 years old and the school is still standing. If you take a walk to the school, most of the classrooms are damaged because of the asbestos. It has gone rotten now. Our children are inhaling asbestos,” he said.

The department’s spokesperson, Sihle Mlotshwa, said: “We understand their anger but they should not disturb teaching and learning.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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