Maverick Citizen

BROKEN SCHOOLS

Learners in rural Limpopo at risk while classrooms fall apart around them

Learners in rural Limpopo at risk while classrooms fall apart around them
The safety of learners in rural Limpopo is threatened because of stalled infrastructure projects. (Photo: Sandile Ndlovu / Sowetan / Gallo Images / Getty Images)

The Limpopo education department is facing legal action as infrastructure projects remain suspended long after the lifting of Covid restrictions. This is a violation of their rights to dignity, equality and basic education.

Public interest law centre, SECTION27, filed papers on Monday with the Gauteng High Court, demanding that the Limpopo education department pay attention to schools whose infrastructure projects were suspended during lockdown. Two years down the line, the urgently needed projects have still not resumed, placing the safety of learners at risk in some instances.

Hundreds of learners at Ndzalama Primary School in Giyani have spent their entire primary school careers without seeing any substantive improvements to the infrastructure at their school,” SECTION27 research and advocacy officer, Julia Chaskalson, told Maverick Citizen

limpopo schools bvuma

The crumbling entrance to Bvuma Primary School, Limpopo. (Photo: Julia Chaskalson)

“Learners have left Ndzalama feeling that government does not care about them, their rights or their safety.

“That critical infrastructure projects at schools in Limpopo have been so delayed and underprioritised represents a worrying trend in government, that the rights of learners in rural areas and safety of schools that they attend can wait. This is simply not good enough.”

The organisation is representing Ndzalama Primary School, Dingamanzi Primary School, Chameti Secondary School and Bvuma Primary School, where unfinished infrastructure repair and renovation projects “violate childrens’ rights to dignity, equality and basic education”.

limpopo schools chameti

A classroom at Chameti school with no ceiling and a missing chalkboard. (Photo: Julia Chaskalson)

In a statement issued on Monday, the organisation says the requisite infrastructure projects predate Covid by years, and as a result, teachers and learners feel they have been forgotten by the government.

“When it rains, learners at some schools are crammed into classrooms where leaking is not as bad, or shift desks and textbooks around to avoid water damage. 

“Learners are sometimes sent home ahead of storms because the noise caused by rain or wind on damaged roofing is deafening… learners and educators are worried about classrooms collapsing due to structural defects.”

limpopo chameti classroom

A classroom at Chameti school with an entire wall broken down, Limpopo. (Photo: Julia Chaskalson)

  • Ndzalama Primary School’s roof was damaged during a storm in 2012. In 2018, another storm ripped the roof off two classroom blocks. Unable to use these rooms, the school is forced to squeeze learners into safer classrooms. Overcrowding has made teaching and learning extremely difficult.
  • The school community of Dingamanzi Primary School has been trying to engage with the provincial education department since 2001 over classrooms that are dilapidated and unsafe. The school does not have sufficient classrooms for its learners, nor does it have electricity. When it rains, the noise is so loud that learning stops entirely.
  • Some classrooms at Chameti Secondary School were made from mud bricks in 1988, which are cracked, crumbling and dangerous. Supporting pillars of the classrooms were damaged in a storm a decade ago, but the department has done nothing about it.
  • Similar conditions exist at Bvuma Primary School, where mud brick classrooms get so hot that learners cannot concentrate. Learners are squeezed into newer classrooms, causing overcrowding. A storm ripped the roof off two toilet blocks, leaving them exposed. Electrical equipment at the school is also damaged.

“The negative impacts of unsafe infrastructure on teaching and learning at these schools cannot be overstated. Learners and school communities have described how difficult it is to concentrate on learning when they are squeezed into overcrowded and often overheated classrooms because there are not enough safe classrooms to use.”

limpopo schools ndzalama

A classroom at Ndzalama Primary School with no roof and broken windows. (Photo: Julia Chaskalson)

Learners at Ndzalama Primary say they feel anxious when attending school because of being exposed to unsafe infrastructure, which continues to deteriorate with every extreme weather event.

At Chameti Secondary, the school governing body has indicated that learners struggle to concentrate in class because the classrooms are so badly damaged.

“When it rains or when it is windy, teaching and learning must stop completely because of the noise of the iron sheets on the roof flapping … when school infrastructure is unsafe, learners and educators are on the back foot and unable to learn effectively,” said Chaskalson.

limpopo schools ndzalama

A classroom at Ndzalama Primary School with broken and falling ceiling boards, exposed electrical wiring, missing chalkboard and broken chairs, Limpopo. (Photo: Julia Chaskalson)

The organisation would like the Gauteng High Court to order the national and provincial education departments to develop a plan for the building, repair and renovation of the schools within specific timeframes.

“The continued existence of unsafe school infrastructure has violated entire generations of learners’ rights to equality, dignity and basic education,” SECTION27’s statement concluded. DM/MC

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Malcolm McManus says:

    Truly disgusting that the ANC has neglected education so badly under their reign. The truth is, most of these learners parents either don’t vote, or vote for the ANC. Its equally their parents to blame. The ANC should have made quality education for the masses as priority number 1 in 1994 and forever thereafter. Arms deals, ruining Eskom, too tall trains, SAA, BEE, Guptas should all have taken back seats.

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