Home News City pupils sent home, questions over R2m toilets

City pupils sent home, questions over R2m toilets

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“NC Department of Education is toying with our children’s futures”

Pupils at Zingisa Intermediate School in Galeshewe were sent home on Monday because the toilets at the school are not working and there has also been no water since the reopening of schools. File picture.

PUPILS at Zingisa Intermediate School in Galeshewe were sent home on Monday because the toilets at the school are not working and there has also been no water since the reopening of schools.

This is despite the fact that the toilets at the school were reportedly renovated at a cost of R2 million earlier this year.

According to parents of pupils at the school, apart from the flooded toilets, there is also no electricity, no water and no JoJo tanks. “The ceilings are also collapsing and there are insufficient desks at the school which makes social distancing impossible,” the parents said.

Teachers initially brought their own water to school in 5l containers, but on Monday parents had had enough.

One of the parents said they had not received answers from the principal regarding the R2 million renovation work done on the four toilet blocks.

“The health of our children is being compromised and the department is not doing anything,” one parent said.

“The officials at the district office are probably not even aware that our children have not been attending school,” he added.

The parents said they had raised their concerns last week before all grades returned to school on Monday and had hoped that a plan would have been made over the weekend.

“This is exactly what we feared. More than 800 pupils between Grade R and Grade 9 are now unable to attend classes due to the incompetence of the Northern Cape Department of Education.

“They are toying with our children’s futures. They know that this is the only isiXhosa school in Galeshewe. There is no alternative school,” the parent said, close to tears.

Earlier this year, parents of pupils at the school prevented their children from entering the premises following a dispute between rival school governing body (SGB) groups.

The school’s administration section was also torched in what was believed to be part of the SGB battle.

The Northern Cape Department of Education confirmed that the pupils were dismissed from school early on Monday due to a lack of water, but blamed this on water cuts in Kimberley.

“As you may be aware, there has been a water cut experience in and around Kimberley. Therefore to ensure compliance with the Covid-19 regulations the school was dismissed (on Monday),” department spokesperson Lehuma Ntuane said on Tuesday.

He added that the report from the school indicated that the school toilets were functional “but there are learners who do not flush after making use of them”.

He stated further that there were no major infrastructure challenges at the school, apart from the damages caused by vandalism during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“Due to vandalism there are some classrooms where electrical wires were stolen. This matter is being attended to by the department, however, it does not amount to a crisis as electricity is very seldom utilised in the classrooms.”

Ntuane also denied any challenges with regards to social distancing.

“The school currently has a learner ratio ranging from between 12 to 18 learners per classroom. The school is utilising the two school halls to accommodate learners in terms of the Covid-19 regulations.”

He added that no reports were received of teachers having to bring water with them to school.

“The toilets were renovated and handed over to the school in January. Currently there are no issues with the toilets.”

Ntuane said that in terms of the weekly rotation system, the school was expecting to receive 500 pupils on Monday but only 398 pupils reported for class.

Regarding the SGB, Ntuane stated that in terms of the governance of the school and SGB responsibility, an administrator had been appointed to handle key financial duties normally allocated to the SGB.

The pupils were meanwhile dismissed earlier than expected again on Tuesday as a result of the water cuts imposed by the Sol Plaatje Municipality.