Johannesburg – An unwelcome tree species has brought welcome relief to school children sharing desks in class.
The environmental affairs department delivered 253 school desks made of invasive red river gum trees (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), to the Boitumelo Secondary School in Ficksburg, in the Free State, on Thursday, Beeld reported.
Elliot Mhlophe, the school headmaster at Boitumelo, which has 1 200 pupils, said the new desks were the brainchild of Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi, who had "adopted" the struggling school.
"She has breathed life into this school," Mhlope said.
Mabudafhasi, who used to be a teacher, told pupils on Thursday that the red gum trees had a negative affect on the country's water and land.
"We had to remove the trees in this area, but we didn't just want to throw them away."
She said her department had identified 348 alien tree species in the country, and some of the wood had already been used to make desks, coffins, walking sticks and carved statuettes.