Pretoria –The Gauteng department of education (GDE) said it allocated about R12 million, through the Gauteng department of infrastructure development, five years ago for the refurbishment of Thubelihle High School in Soweto.
On Thursday, learners and parents locked the “dilapidated” school’s gates, protesting about the conditions at the institution.
Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi said he was disappointed by the lack of progress on the project.
“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 DID (Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development) will complete this project accordingly,” Lesufi said.
The Gauteng department of education said it shared the parents’ frustration.
“Regrettably, the implementing agent (Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development) has not fulfilled the refurbishment project at the school as required by the Gauteng department of education. Indeed, we share parent’s frustration and call upon the department of infrastructure development to fast-track the process of appointing a new contractor after terminating the current one,” Lesufi said.
Following the protest at the Soweto school, department officials have visited the institution and committed that, in the interim, mobile classrooms will be provided to the school while waiting for the refurbishment project to resume.
The mobile units are expected to be delivered in June, “as procurement processes are at an advanced stage to ensure that learning continues at the school”.
Lesufi said the school governing body has agreed to allow schooling to resume today.
On Thursday, a member of the school governing body, Brenda Mfazi, said there have been numerous attempts to get the school revamped “but nothing has been done”.
“As you can see today, the learners are protesting. They feel that enough is enough. They have been in this building for the past five years. They feel that they are being neglected. We are the only school around here that is still platooning, our learners are not back to school 100% because we do not have enough classes, the space to accommodate all our learners,” Mfazi said.
She says the school has about 1 000 learners and they have to rotate their attendance. Some learners are taught in containers, which Mfazi said are overcrowded.
“We have been to the MEC’s office, we did not get any help. We even hand-delivered the letter to him and there was no response. We tried to communicate with the DID and still we are being taken from pillar to post. We gave a report to parents yesterday,” Mfazi said.
“Parents felt that enough is enough … we have been speaking about this thing for five years and there is nothing happening. They feel that in South Africa, the only language the superiors understand is protest.”
Taking news crews on a tour of the “dangerous” premises, Mfazi said the administration block was too small to accommodate the school’s teaching staff.
“It is also not up to standard. It is very small, and we have a lot of teachers. The teachers end up sitting in their cars because they cannot fit in their staffroom. That staffroom can only accommodate about 10.”
She said the school has about 30 teachers.
“They cannot fit here,” she said.
Mfazi said the parents and community members had locked the school principal and learners out of the school.