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PREMIER David Mabuza has announced that the Mpumalanga government is to build a state-of-the-art boarding school for Donkerhoek's disadvantaged communities this year.
Mabuza made the announcement during his back-to-school campaign visit to Twyfelhoek Combined School on Wednesday.
Donkerhoek, near Piet Retief, falls under the Mkhondo local municipality. The region forms part of the rural development focus Mabuza launched in October last year.
Twyfelhoek School has at least 347 pupils - with the majority of them having to travel more than 20km to school every day.
"The process of building a comprehensive boarding school in this area will commence this year," Mabuza said.
"The government is hoping that by 2011 learners from this area will be staying in the school."
He said the school would also serve the rural communities from KwaNgema, Emahhashini, Daggakraal, Driefontein and other surrounding areas.
The boarding school would provide amenities for early childhood education, primary and and secondary education "to deal early" with the poor education output in rural areas, said Mabuza.
He discovered the shocking reality of poverty in these areas during his election campaign, promising to return to do something to find a solution to the poverty in the area.
Mabuza has since returned several times, including a few days before Christmas, when he donated clothing, blankets and food parcels.
Thandeka Thabethe, a Grade 6 pupil at Twyfelhoek Combined School, told Mabuza that she was happy he was committed to improving services in the area.
"You are one in a million, Mr Premier!" she said.
"You did not just make empty promises like councillors used to do.
"The school you are bringing will improve the lives of many in this area."