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Parents shut down Gauteng’s Thubelihle High School over safety concerns

Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)

Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 12, 2022

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Johannesburg - Learning came to a grinding halt today at Thubelihle High School situated in White City, Soweto.

Parents and members of the school governing body (SGB) shut down the school on Thursday morning. Teachers and pupils were not allowed on the school grounds.

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The parents cited the state of the school as the reason for their protest. The parents described the school as a health hazard and resolved to shut down the school, after having their concerns fall on deaf ears.

The core issue is that the school has been undergoing renovations for the past five years and is still not compliant with the standards conducive to learning. The frustrated parents further alleged that some classrooms don't have windows and doors.

Safety concerns have also been raised as to the state of the roofs and poor drainage, leaving parents very reluctant to send their children to a school that they considered to be unsafe.

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At 8.25am, students lined the streets outside the school, uncertain whether any learning would take place today.

Speaking to eNCA, one of the students described the conditions of the toilets in the school, she said: “It’s very bad because the toilets are not that clean, so sometimes you don't even go there because its a disaster.”

In response to the protest, the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) issued a statement which, in part, read “GDE allocated about R12 million through Department of Infrastructure to refurbish Thubelihle High School, in Soweto, through the implementing agent the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) five years ago.”

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The statement goes on to state: “Regrettably, the implementing agent has not fulfilled the refurbishment project at the school as required by GDE. Indeed, we share parents’ frustration and call upon GDID to fast track the process of appointing a new contractor, after terminating the current one.”

Departmental officials visited the school, and met with parents and the SGB. A commitment to supply the school with mobile classrooms has been made to ensure that schooling continues in the interim.

The Department of Education states that these mobile units are expected to be delivered in June 2022, as procurement processes are at an advanced stage.

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Commenting on the situation, Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi said: “We are really disappointed that the project, that started five years ago, is still not complete. Infrastructure challenges were long identified, hence the designated budget and allocation. We hope that the GDID will complete this project accordingly”.

The school governing body has agreed to allow schooling to resume as of tomorrow Friday, May 13, 2022.

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