12 September 2017

South Africa: School Still Unfinished After Five Years and R16 Million

Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane/GroundUp
Despite being officially opened, Duduzani Primary School in Ntuzuma Township, Durban, has not been completed.

Despite being officially opened, Duduzani Primary School in Ntuzuma Township, Durban, has not been completed. During the official opening last month, MEC for Education Mthandeni Dlungwane, who said the department had spent R15.9 million building the school, said he was aware the school had problems. He promised that these would be attended to.

A source at the school who wished to remain anonymous said, "There are loose cables in classrooms and electricity goes on and off ... It's not safe."

There is also only one standpipe to supply water for 1,441 learners. The toilets have not been completed either.

The current principal, Thandi Lushaba, joined the school in 1995. From 1991 to 1995 the children were taught under a tree. In 1995, they moved to prefabricated classrooms made of cardboard and corrugated iron. When it rained, learners went home as the roof leaked. On hot days, the classrooms overheated and classes stopped.

In 2012, construction started on Duduzani Primary School. Teachers and learners occupied the school while it was under construction. Parents and the school governing board (SGB) "worked jointly with us and we made it this far" Lushaba said proudly.

Grade 7 learner Malibongwe Hlongwa said, "I'm happy that I don't have to worry about the rain anymore."

Former learner Lindiwe Ntombela said, "We had a few prefabs [before]... The cardboard would be wet when it rained and the heat was extremely unbearable. Teachers would release us because learning could not continue under such conditions."

Addressing parents and learners during the opening, Dlungwane said there had been problems with the sub-contractor tendered for the construction. The project had to stop and that resulted in a long delay, he said.

Dlungwane said, "In our financial year for 2017/18, we have 481 projects where we are supplying infrastructure to our schools. More than 163 schools are on site [being built] and 31 of them have been completed. Our infrastructure sector is busy building over 600 classrooms to schools in the province."

When asked about the sub-contractor and the intervention by the department, KwaZulu Natal education spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa accused GroundUp of trying to politicise the story. He said the only important thing was that the depatment had opened the school and it was functioning. He has stopped responding to GroundUp's calls.

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