“This fairly new school has been vandalised by thugs, whether they are from the community or pupils”
REPORTS that more than 900 pupils at a primary school in Upington started school last week with no toilets at all have been denied by the Northern Cape Department of Education.
According to the report by GroundUp, a South African based not-for-profit news agency, there are four blocks of about six classrooms for pupils from grades 1 to 7 with toilets for each block, at the school, which was built in 2014.
“But the toilets were vandalised in late 2018 and repairs to these toilets only started in December 2019 because in the meantime other problems had developed connecting toilets from the new Grade R classes to the sewerage system. Meanwhile, four mobile toilets were hired in 2018 for the 900 pupils,” the article stated.
“Since then, the Grade R toilets have been connected, but the toilets for grades 1 to 7 are still not working.
“And pupils do not even have mobile toilets because the provider says he has not been paid for 2019 and has refused to bring back the toilets which were removed over the school holidays.”
According to the Northern Cape Department of Education the report is incorrect, as pupils at Paballelo Primary School had access to ablution facilities when schools opened last week, although it admitted that not all the facilities were in working order.
“This fairly new school has been vandalised by thugs, whether they are from the community or pupils,” department spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe said in response.
He added that the Department of Roads and Public Works was busy with reparation work to the ablution facilities and were replacing the sewerage pipeline, which had been damaged and blocked by rocks. “They are also replacing broken toilets and windows as well as the doors that have been ripped off.”
Van der Merwe said the project had commenced in November 2019 at an estimated cost of R484 000 and was expected to be completed within two weeks.
“We engaged the Department of Roads and Public Works to avail temporary ablution facilities.”
Van der Merwe said the department appealed to the school community to take ownership of their school; to protect and guard it against any form of vandalism or theft.
“Schools represent a beacon of hope in every community and should be looked after well. We have raised our concerns with the ZF Mgcawu district office and expect stringent action towards the management of this school to address pupil discipline. We will do what is necessary to normalise the school with immediate effect.”