Teaching and learning was brought to a complete halt at KwaFaku Primary School, in Lower Crossroads, on Monday February 13, when pupils and parents protested outside the premises.
The parents barricaded roads leading to the school with rubbish, demanding the demolition of the school. They argued the school was not safe, and was a health hazard to pupils and teachers.
The disgruntled parents said many letters had been sent to the education department about the school’s condition. They have threatened to protest until their demands are met.
Community leader Albert Dlala said the school was built using experimental materials and a safer building was needed.
He said the school infrastructure is crumbling and children are getting sick.
“The ventilation system is not working. But besides that the school itself is on the brink of collapsing. There is just so many faults. We have been writing letters to the department since 2009. This is not a school for young children,” he said.
The parents said they feel sorry for the teachers and children. They believe the pupils and teachers were innocent and deserve better. “All we need is a response of when the school will be built. We want this problem sorted as parents. We do not want to see children dying here. But if one looks at it, this is a grave. Toilets are leaking, walls are collapsing, windows do not open and doors are irreparable. As parents we could not just sit back and fold our arms,” he said.
South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) chairperson Bonisile Ntlola said the protest would continue for as long as there was no proper response from the government. “This is a community school and we support what is happening here today. People are voicing their anger to the government about this unhealthy situation. We will continue to put pressure on the government. Our children cannot continue like this. We believe that so many of our teachers are constantly sick here because of the school,” he said.
He said it was unfortunate that the only language the government is listening to is protest.
Disappointed school principal Zoliswa Figlan said the matter was not in their hands but that of the community. She admitted that many meetings had been held regarding the school and many letters have been written to all the necessary departments. “Last year there was a promise of a new school. We were told that at the beginning of the year we would have mobile classes so that the current building can be demolished. We do not know what happened to the promise. But the agreement still stands,” she said.
She said the protest has affected them and children are missing out on their education. “I am disappointed that the department has not responded to parents. We are losing our time. This is the busiest time of the quarter to us. But now we have to endure this pain of not teaching,” she said.
The Western Cape Education Director (WCED) director of communication, Paddy Attwell, said on Tuesday that the district director had met a delegation of parents at the school to discuss the way forward. He said an infrastructure planner was meant to visit the school yesterday, Wednesday February 15, with a group of parents to inspect the condition of the school and to make recommendations. “The report of the infrastructure planner will form part of the director’s report to the department. He will seek consensus with the parents with him on his findings. The department is aware of the general condition of the school and has already planned to replace it in 2019. Normally, pupils occupy the existing premises while the new school is built. The department takes whatever steps are necessary to ensure the health and safety of learners and staff during this time,” he said. Mr Attwell said learning and teaching was expected to resume as normal soon.