Thousands of pupils throughout the country are facing the danger of school buildings collapsing on them, according to a report.
The report found that more than 70 schools countrywide had infrastructure problems that required urgent attention.
The Citizen visited one of these schools yesterday, where parents were putting up scaffolding at the site of a sagging walkway between buildings.
According to the SA Teachers’ Union (SAOU), the recent tragedy at Hoërskool Driehoek in which four pupils were killed after a walkway collapsed prompted the investigation.
“The SAOU launched a national survey to obtain an informed picture of the degree of compliance with the regulations and standards of public school infrastructure,” said Johan Kruger, director of operations at SAOU.
“The survey to date has identified more than 70 schools with infrastructure problems that can be categorised as requiring urgent attention to parts of the buildings. The average age of the schools is 68 years,” he said. “School maintenance is woefully inadequate.”
Kruger said Hoërskool Roodepoort, for example, was operating without 18 classrooms, due to the deteriorated condition of the building.
Another school that faces danger is Ennerdale Secondary School where learning has been disrupted in the past two weeks because of fears that the school’s walkway, which connects two buildings, might collapse.
The school’s governing body yesterday handed over a memorandum to Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, threatening to shut down the school from next week if their demands for infrastructure were not addressed.
“Should undivided attention not be given … effective teaching and learning cannot take place from next week,” reads the memo.
When The Citizen visited the school yesterday, staff members said they feared for the worst as the walkway and some classrooms were in such a bad state they could collapse at any time.
“When it rains the water gets into the classroom and we have to sweep it out using brooms,” said one staff member, who declined to be named.
Scaffolding held up a visibly dilapidated walkway, with safety tape cordoning off the area.
The SAOU survey revealed that 85% of the schools received financial allocations, while 91.7% indicated only a percentage of the allocation made provision for maintenance issues.
The schools that participated in the survey were categorised from Quintile one to five, with the poorest communities classified as one and schools serving the more affluent communities, five.
The regulations and standards for Public School Infrastructure have the following objectives:
- To ensure there is compliance with the minimum uniform norms and standards in the design and construction of new schools and additions, alterations and improvements; and
- To provide timeframes within which school infrastructure backlogs must be eradicated.
The spokesperson for the department of education yesterday referred enquiries regarding the condition of the schools to the individual provinces.
Gcina Ntsaluba / The Citizen