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Cape Town – Parents of pupils attending Pauw Gedenk Primary School in Wellington are outraged that their children are being taught under trees or on the playground because construction is under way at the school.

Construction at the 90-year-old school, which began in the second term, has made classrooms unfit for lessons, according to the parents.

The school has about 500 pupils in grades zero to 3.

The parents are planning to picket outside the school’s gates tomorrow to demand that the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) resolve the issue. 

The parents wrote a letter to the department’s area manager, saying: “As our school now poses a danger to all, no teaching, as expected by us, can be given until the... eight identified classrooms are fully restored.

“It is a disruption to our children’s education. However, should any educator or pupil succumb to any injury or negative effects from construction, we will hold you and the department accountable.”

Acting school principal Natasha Coriazin said work on the school’s floors was unfinished, leaving the school with little option but to give instruction outdoors for the safety of the children.

SGB chairperson Sonja Paulse said they had been informed of parents’ frustration. 

“As a parent with a child at the school, I went to see for myself and saw children being taught under the trees or on the playground. 

"This is completely unacceptable and we have demanded that the school ask the WCED to provide alternatives for the sake of the children,” she said.

WCED spokesperson Millicent Merton said the brickwork of the building had been disintegrating in places and the first-floor timber supports had appeared problematic. 

“In September, temporary support works were completed with the introduction of an additional bearer beam supported by temporary props.

"The purpose of the temporary support installation is to prevent further deterioration of the first-floor timber support structure.

“The... consulting engineers confirmed that the four first-floor classrooms and the four ground-floor classrooms are safe for continued use.

"It is, however, impractical to use the ground-floor classrooms because of the amount of space taken up by the prop supports’ tripod footings,” said Merton.

Due to the age of the building, it had been necessary to gain Heritage Western Cape’s approval for construction, and the department had engaged the Department of Transport and Public Works Education Infrastructure to inform the school and district of progress made in construction and when the remedial work would be completed, she said.

Cape Times