Pupils from Pinedene Primary in Ravensmead receive a lesson on the playground after teachers removed them from classrooms in fear for their safety when the walls reportedly began cracking. Photo: Monique Duval
Cape Town – While repair work will get under way at Pinedene Primary, Ravensmead, in mid-March, according to the provincial education department, representatives of the school say it really needs 13 new classrooms and a school hall.

For the past week, teaching had taken place outside under trees as the school was falling apart, said school governing body chairperson Randall Botha.

He said cracks in the walls were so bad in parts that he feared a total collapse of the building.

Yet provincial education department spokesperson Millicent Merton said that an engineer had inspected the school building last week and deemed the structure safe.

Botha said: “This is about 13 classrooms with cracks so severe that asbestos is seeping through. About 50 pupils and their teachers work outside because their safety cannot be guaranteed. The school needs new classrooms and a school hall urgently.”

On Monday, parents received notices that their children had been moved for their own safety and the problematic area had been cordoned off with tape.

Botha said the school had communicated with the department on the issue for the past two years.

SA Democratic Teachers' Union provincial chairperson Jonovan Rustin said it was in breach of teachers’ conditions of employment to teach outside.

Rustin said if the situation was not addressed properly, the union would have to file a dispute on behalf of its members.

“Teachers cannot provide instruction outside a classroom. This also affects the well-being of the pupils. 

"The department must give clear timelines and if the pupils’ safety is in question, they must be placed in an alternative school or temporary classrooms must be provided,” Rustin added.

Cape Times