The following article appeared in The Herald on 28th May – it certainly serves to give a context in which schools support volunteer programme is working.
HAZARDOUS conditions, overcrowding, lack of nutrition and an absence of funding at several Eastern Cape schools have highlighted the dire circumstances in which many primary institutions in the region find themselves.
While tens of thousands of schoolchildren face hunger because suppliers to the province’s school nutrition scheme have still not been paid after months of waiting, the education of hundreds of others has been disrupted at three primary schools.
These schools face crippling problems to which staff and parents claim the provincial Education Department is turning a blind eye.
Provincial education officials acknowledged that urgent funding was required to address serious problems and added that monies owed to nutrition programme suppliers would be paid at the end of the month.
Because of the dire situation at the three schools, more than 900 pupils are unable to write their June exams and more than 700 others have been forced to share severely overcrowded classrooms.
A total of 884 pupils at West End Primary School in Port Elizabeth have been locked out since Tuesday because staff and parents have labelled the school a “ticking time-bomb” due to dangers posed to children.
The drastic measure to lock the school gates comes as pupils are supposed to be writing their June exams.
Teachers and parents took the step in a bid to force the department to take drastic action over the school building which is in a state of total disrepair. They fear its derelict condition could lead to injuries or even fatalities if urgent intervention is not provided.
During protests at the school yesterday, parents vowed they would keep their children from writing exams “for as long as it takes”.
The Education Department’s district director, Dr Nyathi Ntsiko, visited the school and urged the parents to end the protests. He admitted that an amount of R17000 to fix the entire school was not enough, and urged the parents to prioritise the repair work.
Meanwhile, at the Wolwefontein Primary School near Kirkwood , 30 pupils are also unable to write their exams.
Local farmer Willem Klopper, who owns the land on which the school is situated, was forced to shut it down on Monday due to the department’s failure to pay him for running it.
He had been running the school out of his own pocket for more than a year while waiting for the department to issue him with a supplier number.
Individuals who render a service to the department need to be registered as a supplier of services. The reason for the holdup in Klopper’s getting his supplier number, he says, is that the department has “lost” his paperwork three times.