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Classes 'under trees' illegal

By Report by Frank Maponya, Limpopo Bureau Chief | 2012-05-30 06:39:20.0

Hopes of 165 children dashed as government insists it will recognise school only next year

RESIDENTS of Silvermine village and the Limpopo department of education are at loggerheads over the running of a school in the village.

The department is now threatening legal action against the community, arguing that the school is illegal.

Department spokesman Pat Kgomo said it was illegal for the community to run a school without permission.

"It is illegal to operate a school without approval by the department. For a school to be conducted there needs to be proper facilities such as sanitation, water and buildings for the safety of the pupils," Kgomo said.

But the community insists on having a local school, for the sake of their children's safety.

They claim two girls were nearly raped on their way to school at the nearby Kgwale village last year.

They established Selowe Primary school in January this year to accommodate local pupils who used to attend school in two neighbouring villages. The school is run by volunteer teachers.

The parents claim that their children were vulnerable to criminals as they walked long distances through the bushes to neighbouring villages.

The department had abruptly terminated the contract for scholar transport in April last year, thereby leaving the poor pupils in the lurch.

Kgomo said yesterday that they were prepared to provide transport to the pupils "any time".

However, the community has rejected the department's offer of scholar transport.

"It is better for our children to learn where they are safe than for them to be vulnerable to criminals," said Phineas Mogale, whose four children attend the school.

Mogale also volunteers at the school as a cleaner.

Local headman Manas Morudu supported the parents' call for a school to be set up in the village, saying the issue of transport to other schools was a "waste of resources".

The department has also announced that the process to register Selowe Primary School was under way. The name of the school has already been accepted.


Selowe Primary School in Silvermine village near Senwabarwana (formerly Bochum) was established in January this year.

The school has 165 pupils, 14 teachers - including the principal - and eight "classrooms".

Seven of the classes from grades 1 to 7 are conducted under trees, while a single shack erected by the community accommodates only Grade R pupils.

Of the 14 teachers, only two have relevant qualifications to teach the children.

Evan Seanego, the school's principal, is only in possession of a matric certificate.

Before taking up the position, he worked as a security guard in Gauteng.

All teachers work on a voluntary basis.

The provincial department of education is adamant the school is operating illegally and that due processes need to be followed until the school receives proper recognition.

Selowe Primary is without proper infrastructure such as buildings, desks, chairs, textbooks, toilets and water.

Teachers have to carry water in containers to share with pupils. Both pupils and teachers relieve themselves in the bushes.

Pupils' parents clean the school premises in the mornings.

Josephine Mokgotho, 40, using a hoe and carrying a baby on her back, said they were cleaning the yard for the safety of their children.

"An unclean environment would pose health risks for our children, so we decided to voluntarily clean the school yard," she said.

- frankm@sowetan.co.za