Cape Town. 140122. The Department of Education has recently upgraded a few schools in impoverished areas. Pictured are Fairview and Plantation Primary. Fairview Boasts a beautiful new Ballet room. Reporter Michelle Jones. Picture COURTNEY AFRICA

Cape Town - Twenty-one schools – four new and 17 replacement buildings – are to be built across the province this year.

This forms part of the Western Cape Education Department’s plans to complete 72 new and replacement schools from 2013/14 to 2015/16.

During this time the department plans to complete 26 new schools, 46 replacement schools, five classroom replacement projects and construct 124 Grade R classrooms.

Planning had started on an additional 11 new schools and 16 replacement schools, said department spokesman Paddy Attwell.

When schools opened last week, three replacement schools – Fairview Primary and Plantation Road Primary in Grassy Park, and Kathleen Murray Primary in Grabouw – were completed and opened.

Attwell said these schools had been built using prefabricated materials. “The WCED is replacing schools built of prefabricated materials. Many of these schools, known as plankie skole, are in a poor state of repair.

“We have improved the specifications for both new and replacement schools.

“Facilities include media centres or libraries, laboratories, kitchens for the feeding scheme, computer facilities and workshops where required.”

He said staff and pupils at the three replacement schools were happy with their upgraded buildings.

But, Attwell said, there had been some teething problems in the first week. “Kathleen Murray Primary has applied for an additional teacher because their enrolment grew by a further 40 pupils at the start of the year.”

Aubrey de Wet, principal of Fairview Primary, said the old school building had been “dilapidated”.

“The boards were rotten. The building was lying at a 15° angle. The prefabricated building was completely demolished. The new building is standing where it was.”

He said some parts of the new building had yet to be completed including the landscaping, parking lot and fencing.

De Wet described the new school as “beautiful, wonderful”. “We have a very beautiful computer centre. We have a wonderful dancing studio. We are very happy to be in a better facility than what we had.”

Plantation Road Primary principal Cedric Meyer said there was improved safety and lighting, and more space in the new building. “The previous building was a prefabricated building. The walls were rotting, the walls were moving. It became a safety hazard and a health hazard for the children.

“The kids feel more relaxed, more at ease.”

He said a number of items, including the gates and paving, needed to be completed.

The four new schools expected to be completed this year are Brakenfell High, Masakhane Primary, Silversands High and Wellington Primary.

Attwell said new schools were being built in areas where there was “growing demand for schools because of inward migration and new housing developments”.

He said these four schools would enrol pupils from next year.

[email protected]

Cape Times