Elizabeth Matsemela Secondary School principal Judy Mashala and legislature Deputy Speaker Uhuru Moiloa assess the state of readiness of the school for the new academic year. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/ANA
Pretoria - Shocking conditions at township schools confronted a delegation of senior government officials who visited areas north of the capital on Thursday.

At one Soshanguve school, they were stunned to learn that the building was “infested” with snakes, including a python.

The provincial government group dropped in at around eight schools in the vicinity to assess their readiness for the 2018 academic year.

They were met by dilapidated buildings, as well as old and rundown infrastructure.

Deputy Speaker of the Gauteng legislature, Uhuru Moiloa, said the visit was part of a nationwide initiative. All sectors of government visited schools around the country to ensure that children were learning and that teachers were teaching.

Moiloa said they were happy with the kind of leadership provided by the principals and school governing body members, as well as the commitment of educators and pupils.

However, he said they were shocked by the facilities in schools. “The state of these schools is quite disturbing. The kind of grievances we got clearly point to leadership working very hard to improve schools, but they are challenged by the poor facility provision.”

He said while schools such as Elizabeth Matsemela Secondary School in Block H, Soshanguve, had steadily moved from a pass rate of 45% in 2014 to 71% last year, it faced enormous challenges that needed to be dealt with as soon as possible.

“This school is infested with snakes to the point where they even came across a python two weeks ago. Now, that on its own is unacceptable as such a reptile could swallow a child whole,” Moiloa said.

“Something drastic needs to happen here. The Department of Education and City of Tshwane have to come together urgently and deal with the situation, because it would not cost a fortune to clear up this place.”

He pointed to the need for basic municipal services and said the school was in a poor state as the infrastructure was old and in disrepair, necessitating the need for a total revamp. “New things have to happen if we are serious about the education of the African child. So we will be relating some of the issues we picked up on to Parliament,” he added.

Legislature Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe, went to Hlanganani Secondary School in Soshanguve Block G and was greeted by a myriad of challenges.

Principal Mike Mogolane said although they were trying their best to provide quality education, they had to contend with parents who had no interest in their children’s progress, criminals vandalising the property and drugs making their way on to the schoolgrounds.

Mogolane said although they had taken in pupils from another secondary school after it had been converted into a primary school, they often found that only three parents in a school that had 400 pupils attended school meetings.

“There is no co-operation between us, the community and parents.

“The palisade fences are stolen regularly. That is how drugs are being filtered into the school.”

School representatives said they were bothered that the bus service often brought pupils from Hammanskraal and other areas more than two hours late.

Mekgwe said she was pleased with the commitment from the school heads and educators and said they would ensure that counsellors assisted the school in speaking to the community.

The officials found that Memezelo Secondary School had no ablution facilities. This, she said, had to be addressed by the City, which was already looking into the sewerage system around numerous townships. “Nothing can be done in isolation, because ensuring the education of our children should be a priority for all.

“And this is the time when the private sector also needs to be called to assist with adjustments needed,” she said.

Mekgwe said the main issues at the two schools she visited were security concerns. “We are frustrated about the conditions. Education is a societal matter; we need to call on residents to take part irrespective of whether their child is attending there or not. We need to improve as a society,” she concluded.

Pretoria News