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Brand new school falling apart

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Two years after the school opened, pupils and teachers are now “fearing for their lives” as the building has started to “fall apart”

The Roodepan High School.

Less than two years after opening its doors to pupils in April 2016, the newly constructed Roodepan High School is already “falling to pieces”.

The school’s Nutrition Centre is in such a dismal state that the feeding scheme was cancelled last week after the ceiling apparently collapsed.

The Roodepan High School was constructed at a cost of between R40 and R50 million and opened by the MEC of Education, Martha Bartlett during April 2016, when 500 pupils started their second term at the school. The pupils were registered to start at the school in January 2016 but when they arrived, the building was still months from completion, forcing them instead to attend classes at other schools in the area.

At the time of the opening, Bartlett did state that “plenty of work still needed to be done”, specifically referring to sporting facilities.

“This brand new school is not completed just yet, but as time goes by the facility will develop. We wanted the children to have after-school facilities to enjoy and those that aren’t here currently will be added at a later stage. For now, there is still plenty of work to be done but the school is able to accommodate pupils already,” Bartlett said at the time.

However, two years after the school opened, pupils and teachers are now “fearing for their lives” as the building has started to “fall apart”.

Reports indicate that parts of the school’s hall and kitchen ceilings collapsed.

In the school’s kitchen, the situation has apparently deteriorated to such an extent that the school’s feeding scheme was cancelled last week, as workers were fearing for their safety. This left pupils, many who depend on the school feeding scheme as their only daily meal, to go without food, according to parents.

One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said that “it was obvious that the school was poorly built” and teachers and pupils were now facing the consequences and were daily fearing for their safety.

One teacher pointed out that massive cracks and structural defects were visible “around every corner”.

The Northern Cape Department of Education (NCDoE) yesterday indicated that officials had visited the school on Wednesday with the Auditor-General and confirmed that “there were some structural problems that started showing after practical completion and after the school took occupation of the facility”.

“The main structural defects are in the school hall and nutrition centre and cracks are also starting to show in the laboratory, media centre and two classrooms,” spokesperson, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said yesterday.

He added that the structural and incomplete issues were being remedied by means of a cession by another contractor.

“The process will take some time as foundations have to be opened up in order to fix the problem,” he said.

With regard to the cancelled feeding scheme, Van der Merwe stated that the contractor was currently working on the nutrition centre and that the principal had indicated that sandwiches were being served to pupils.

The school is also sourcing a counter top two plate stove, in order to continue with the feeding scheme in the meantime.

Van der Merwe concluded by saying that “an urgent meeting” would be scheduled by the NCDoE with the school, implementer, consultants and contractor to sort out priorities and the completion of the project in order for the school to function as optimally as possible.