File photo: David Ritchie / African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – Parents of pupils attending Diaz Primary School in Mossel Bay have said they are shocked to learn that a replacement school would not be big enough to accommodate 60 Grade R pupils.

The parents said they received the news during a meeting with the school governing body (SGB), where they were also told that two teachers could potentially lose their jobs with the school moving to the new building.

According to the SGB, construction of the new school finally got under way after years of applying to the department to replace the current school, made of inappropriate material. The new school is expected to be opened later this month.

SGB chairperson Geoffrey Gordon said they had been informed that the new school had two classes fewer. “Construction of two more classes was not approved; the school received permission to have two temporary classes moved to the new site for the Grade Rs.

“Last week we were informed that this would no longer be happening, with the result being that 60 Grade R learners would then have to find another school, and this may mean two teachers losing their jobs,” he said.

Gordon said the other schools in the region were already full. He said parents wrote to the Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) threatening to protest at the school’s opening, failing an urgent meeting.

WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the department had been in constant communication with parents. “The circuit manager was very clear in February 2019 that the school would not receive the additional two mobiles. 

"It was established that the request was made for two pre-Grade R classes. The WCED, given the dire need for accommodation in this province and limited budget for mobiles, cannot justify the cost of purchase or transfer of mobile classrooms for pre-Grade R learners when we do not have sufficient classrooms to accommodate mainstream learners.”

Community leader David Kamfer said he and other leaders were invited by parents to assist them. He said the parents had threatened to bring construction to a halt and block the move to the new building until the matter was resolved.

Diaz Primary principal Wesley Moodien said: “We have five Grade R classes and there would now only be three classes for this grade. The old building will be used for new sports fields and an amphitheatre.”