29 January 2016
About 100 people protested outside the Western Cape Legislature today, demanding that Avondale Primary School in Atlantis be made safe for learning.
The protesters included members of Cosatu, teaching union Sadtu and the Avondale School Board, as well as some of the students at the school, and their parents. Fiona Abrahams, a proportional representative councillor based in Atlantis (ANC) attended. So did Tony Ehrenreich, also a proportional representative councillor and regional secretary of Cosatu.
Representatives from organisations took turns to express concern about the state of the school before handing a memorandum to the province’s chief director of physical resources, Archie Lewis.
“The school buildings are in a bad state. The structures are moving away from the foundation. There are no windows. Ceilings are falling apart. Toilets are not working. Since 2008 they just come in to repair but you can not repair a school in that state,” said Shane Jennicker, chairperson of the Avondale School Governing Board.
According to Jennicker the students currently are not going into the school. Instead they go to school and sit outside.
Abrahams called for the provincial education department to supply mobile classrooms.
In a statement released today, Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schafer wrote that parents and students of the school raised concerns about its state at the beginning of the academic year. “Officials immediately sought to engage with the parents and the School Governing Body,” she said.
Schafer said that an engineer assessed the school last week. Some classrooms were deemed safe, but parts of the school have been cordoned off until repairs are done.
“Once the necessary repairs are completed, these areas can be used again. These findings have been communicated to the parents of the school. The areas identified will be cordoned off and the necessary repairs made.”
She said that the department has also approved the planning of a replacement school.
She expressed concern that “parents locked the school gates and blocked access to teachers, learners and officials.”