The DA in KwaZulu-Natal is appealing for the Department of Basic Education to intervene at a Durban-based school following claims that 195 learners are being taught in just two classrooms.
"The school, Sizimisele Senior Primary, which is located in Ward 9 eThekwini, currently has only two out of its six classrooms operational due to storm damage to the asbestos roofing from as far back as 2020. The condition of the asbestos roof has been deteriorating ever since and there are now huge holes," said the DA’s spokesperson for Education, Dr Imran Keeka.
He said four classrooms and the school's kitchen area had been flooded, meaning that learners had not received any meals.
Keeka said the current School Governing Body, the former SGB and school management had followed all procedures, reporting the initial damage to KZN’s Department of Basic Education some two years ago and following up more recently about the additional damage.
He added that despite their pleas, to date, nothing had been done.
"The department also ignored an official letter, sent in April 2021, from eThekwini’s Health and Environmental Services, in which they essentially state that the school should be condemned, given its condition. We are angered by the MEC and his department's apparent disinterest in the plight of educators and learners at this school. Instead, hungry learners are being crammed into a confined space – during a global health pandemic – and proper teaching and learning is being severely affected," Keeka said.
He said until recently, staff and learners had also had to sit in classrooms where they were exposed to hazardous material in the form of asbestos. "This is unacceptable. The tragedy is that a fully functional junior primary, which is not full, is just 500 metres away. One would think that the MEC and his department would pursue combining the two schools – even if it is a temporary situation while repairs are made. Clearly they just don’t care," Keeka said.
The DA stated that it was aware that a programme to replace KZN’s so-called asbestos schools was planned within the department and that the infrastructure budget had now recovered to the point where work could be done.
“We have submitted detailed parliamentary questions on this matter to the MEC and look forward to his response. For now, we call on MEC Mshengu to conduct an immediate conduct inspection at Sizimisele Senior Primary and ensure that it is prioritised for repair. This must be accompanied by a revised audit on KZN’s storm damaged schools so that those which require the most urgent attention are prioritised,” Keeka said.