Pupils could not start lessons at the new Fairdale Primary School due to a lack of sanitation and electricity. Picture: Mthuthuzeli Ntseku/Cape Argus
Cape Town - More than 400 schoolchildren from the new Fairdale Primary School near Mfuleni had to return home on Thursday, after their newly built school handover failed due to lack of sanitation and electricity services.

According to parents, these kids had been platooning at Itsitsa Primary school, one of the neighbouring primary schools in the area, since January.

“The department had promised that when the third term commenced, learners would be moved to their new school, easing the burden of the other school.

“But when they got there this morning, there were no teachers or principal in sight,” a parent said.

Earlier on, a scuffle ensued between Fairdale residents and parents from Mfuleni, with the Fairdale residents claiming that the school had been built in their area, she said.

Itsitsa Primary school School Governing Body acting chairperson Etheline Tyakume said this started after residents from Fairdale, where the new school is built, locked the school gates, demanding ownership of the school.

After long deliberations between the communities and intervention by ward councillor Thembisile Batembu, the matter was resolved, allowing the kids to enter the premises.

One of the community members said platooning had put a strain on parents and children, as their kids were only allowed to use the school’s facilities at 1pm.

“As working parents that wake up early, preparing for our kids to go to school is a bit tricky as they only go to school in the afternoon,” she said, adding that during winter their kids were at risk of getting raped and victimised.

Western Cape Department of Education spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said: “The department had engaged with the school recently, and they indicated that they were ready to move into the school.”

“The department has been engaging with the city in order to get the site serviced and warned the community that this would cause delays,” Hammond said.

“We then agreed to provide temporary portable toilets (serviced) water and generator and asked that they put in writing that this would be acceptable until permanent services are provided by the city,” she said.

Hammond said the platooning at Itsitsa Primary would end as soon as water, toilets and a generator had been procured.

“Our aim is to have this ready next week,” she said.


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Cape Argus