Parents shut down 'hazardous' Durban school
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Durban - Pupils and teachers at Wentworth's Austerville Primary School arrived at the school on Monday to find they had been locked out.
Concerned parents and community members have vowed to keep the school closed until the KZN Department of Education addresses urgent matters of mismanagement at the school.
These include toilets that have been labelled a health hazard to pupils and a "crisis" with the school's financial management.
Parents issued a vote of no confidence on the School Governing Body (SGB) and they’ve vowed to keep children away from school until Wednesday, in a bid to force education officials to deal with their concerns.
The parents had attended an emergency meeting called by the school on Saturday. They were briefed on the problems the school is facing and later issued their vote of no confidence against the SGB.
According to parents, Austerville Primary School has been labelled a school in “crisis”. This after details emerged of the school’s desperate situation which includes that the school had no audited financial records since 2016, a utility bill in arrears of more than R300 000 and the fact that suppliers (of security services and stationary) who have not been paid.
In addition to this SGB-employed teachers and support staff (like cleaners) have not been paid, leading to the “health hazardous” state of toilets there and five classes that are unattended with no teachers.
Central to the problems are a break in communication between the school’s former SGB and the new recently elected SGB. The new body has been unable to take control as the former body had failed to hand over financial records and documentation. The school also has no principal based there. A principal who was appointed two years ago has been reporting for duty to the department of education offices, not to the school. He apparently came under threat at the school and could not go back.
Parents have refused to accept him as the principal. The KZN Department of Education has previously said their rejection was race-based. Parents have denied the allegation citing the new principals lesser qualifications and experience in comparison with other more experienced applicants as the reason.
KZN Education spokesman, Muzi Mahlambi, raised concern of the continued disruptions at the school. “We appeal to the parents to work with us in solving the issues that are facing the school. Closing the school now and again is not a solution but a disruption of the future of our learners.”