Parents, SGB shut down Cape school over infrastructure concerns

2019-04-02 16:22
School classroom. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

School classroom. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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Fears that a Cape Town school is falling apart prompted parents and the school governing body (SGB) to demand its closure. But the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) insists that engineers have declared the building "safe". 

The first day of the second term was disrupted at Pinedene Primary School after parents embarked on protests, saying no work was done on school buildings as the department promised.

Speaking to eNCA, SGB member Dorothy Conradie said it wouldn't allow children to enter the school premises on Tuesday morning. 

Conradie said the department had promised to fix the building during the holidays but this was not done. While the C-Block at the school was the most affected, according to Conradie, she told eNCA that they had decided to shut down the entire school.

READ: 'Their screams are still lingering in my mind' - witness to Hoërskool Driehoek tragedy

However, the department said that on three separate occasions, two independent engineers and one in-house engineer had been sent to the school and declared it safe.

The department said it was not going to be forced to place the school on the top of its replacement list when "there are more immediate concerns to consider".

"The WCED has a 10-year infrastructure plan that has taken into account the demand and supply of education infrastructure across the whole province. It also determines timelines and schedules according to available budget," WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said.

"There are some repairs that did require attending to. These repairs included repairs to the roof which is leaking, repairing some of the balustrades and some damaged ceiling boards, as well as the removal of asbestos sheets," added Hammond. 

She said the school was informed of the repairs, which were done through its emergency repair budget and relevant dates for completion were allocated.

"The repair works commenced and are currently on track," Hammond said.

ALSO READ: Parents pray at Vanderbijlpark school after three pupils die in structural collapse

The department was not pleased about the protests.

"The WCED is aware of the protest action at Pinedene Primary School and is disappointed that teaching and learning has been interrupted," Hammond said.

Hammond also said the WCED was aware that some of its schools were 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 with brick and mortar schools. We prioritise this, despite increased pressure for new schools and financial pressure," she said.

Infrastructure at schools has been a hot topic since early February when South Africa woke up to the news that a concrete slab had fallen on 26 pupils at Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijlpark. The incident resulted in the death of four pupils. Several others were injured.

The school was closed for a few days while the Gauteng education department appointed a team of structural engineers to conduct an analysis of the school premises.

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Read more on:    cape town  |  education

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