Over 1,000 learners shut down PE school

Students accuse education department of failing to respond to their grievances

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Photo of learners in front of dilapidated building
Some of the buildings at Ndzondelelo High School are dilapidated. Photo: Joseph Chirume

Over 1,500 learners shut down their high school in Port Elizabeth earlier this week, demanding more teachers, additional and clean toilets, and enough nutritional food for everybody.

Ndzondelelo High School in Zwide was shut down on Tuesday and Wednesday. Learners accused the Eastern Cape Department of Education of failing to respond to their grievances. Parents and community members also joined in the protest. Normal school learning only resumed yesterday after a meeting in which a team from the department promised to fix the problems soon.

Student Representative Council leader, Vusumzi Gqalane, 18, explained: “We have very few toilets in proportion to the number of learners. We had a meeting on Wednesday with the officials from the Department of Education who promised to return with a response soon. We however gave them an ultimatum of five days after which we will walk to Bisho to deliver our grievances to the Premier.”

School principal, Dan Ngcape, said: “The school has 1,600 learners from grade 8 to 12. There are 36 teachers which falls far short of the recommended teacher-learner ratio. We are short of seven educators.”

He further said there was an acute shortage of toilets. “We can’t have 1,600 learners share ten toilets. It is unhealthy and not good for the children. The department accepted and promised to quickly rectify the problem.” He also said there was a shortage of more than 300 desks.

Ngcape said the school’s buildings were old and dilapidating. “The school was built in 1979. Obviously the buildings crumble with time. The department however promised to renovate it and have started by fencing off the school perimeter.”

School governing body chairman, Melvin Manentsa, said he failed to understand how the department ended up with a total number of 1,000 learners when the actual number was 1,600. He said this affected the allocation of teachers and food for the learners. He said, however, that he was optimistic the issues would be resolved quickly because the meeting with the department was “fruitful”. He said the department promised to respond by 15 May. (Manentsa disputed SRC president Vusimzi’s assertion that officials were given a five day ultimatum.)

Department spokesperson, Mali Mtima, confirmed that the meeting took place at the school. He said the department would act “soon after studying the outcome” of his team’s investigation.

TOPICS:  Education

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Dear Editor

Depending on the time of the year and what I want to accomplish during the day or the week, I look at the sky in the afternoon and again in the morning, sometimes the clouds are promising rain and sometimes they are not. Over time one learns to be able to distinguish between a promise that holds water and one that does not.

So lets look at the situation a little more closely. More toilets are needed well how many, minimum is 5 toilets and wash basins for every 100 persons, how long does it take to organise a toilet, well if you phone today, the toilets will be there tomorrow.
Classrooms, well this could take a little longer, but within 6 weeks you can get the classrooms you want, as you can chairs and desks. Teachers are a different problem, but there are online learning tools available which can assist.

So the problem can be solved within 2 months, that is if you want to solve the problem.

When you look at the sky or in this case the D.O.E. what do you see, a cloud that will bring rain, or a cloud that only promises rain.

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