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Sewage-hit school to reopen

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The subsequent work done at the school was only a temporary solution

CLEAN UP: The main sewerage pump in front of Barkley West Primary School broke down, resulting in a back-flow of sewage onto the schools premises and the school was shut down for a week. Picture: Soraya Crowie

TRENCHES and chlorine will allow the academic year to continue at Barkly West Primary this morning, after raw sewage on the premises had seen the school shut down as a health risk.

These measures have, however, been described as only a “temporary solution”, while concerns have been raised about lost time in the classroom.

Despite the Northern Cape Department of Education stating that pupils would be able to return to school last Monday, the school gates remained closed throughout last week.

This prompted a sight inspection by the DA, who have called for Education MEC Martha Bartlett to take swift and decisive action.

“It is clearly time for the department to begin taking a more proactive approach to the many sanitation crises facing schools in the Province rather than simply being reactive and only responding once pupils are being sent home,” said DA spokesperson for Education in the Northern Cape, Safiyia Stanfley.

Barkly West Primary School was closed by the Department of Labour following the collapse of the municipal sewerage system. The main pump located near the school broke down, resulting in a back-flow of sewage onto the school’s premises.

Stanfley pointed out that the subsequent work done at the school was only a temporary solution.

“Trenches have since been dug outside the yard to drain the water and have been filled with sand and treated with HTH. This is, however, only a temporary solution.

“We cannot keep on applying the same temporary solutions and expect them to work on a permanent basis.

“It is unacceptable that pupils, educators and support staff are continuously exposed to such seriously unhygienic, hazardous conditions.”

Stanfley questioned how pupils would be able to catch up on last week’s lost class time with the second half of the current academic year well under way.

“Because it is a short term, there is already a lot of pressure on pupils and educators to complete a fair amount of work in the third term. We cannot afford to have pupils’ education derailed because of sanitation problems which can be avoided.”

The spokesperson for the provincial Department of Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said that classes would commence at Barkly West Primary School this morning.

“The health inspector was at the school on Friday morning to assess the work that has been done,” said Van der Merwe. “They are satisfied with the repairs and are confident that the problem no longer poses a risk to pupils and staff.

“Therefore, the school is safe to open for the start of the new week.”