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Floods close schools

By Alex Matlala | Jan 29, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

SEVERAL schools in Limpopo, especially in the rural areas, have been closed since the start of the torrential rains on Monday.

Dams and rivers were bursting at the seams, making it impossible for pupils and teachers to get to school.

Nelson Ramodike High School in Marumofase outside Tzaneen is one of the adversely affected schools. It was forced to close on Tuesday due to flooding, keeping about 965 pupils at home.

Two children from Marumofase drowned on Monday in the Lethabine River while trying to go to school.

Since the incident some parents have stopped sending their children to schools

"We cannot go to school because we do not want to become part of the statistics of those who die each year by drowning," says Cynthia Bvuma, a Grade 12 student who lives across the river.

"There is also a lot of dangerous reptiles such as pythons on the path we use to go to school."

Like many other children Bvuma is forced to pay the R5 for her lunch to people who wait at the river to help them cross to the other side.

She says during exams, when the helpers were not around, they had been forced to pay R13 to and from school.

The school's principal, who does not want to be named, says teachers had been forced to park their cars at the circuit office in Lenyenye and walk more than 10km to the school.

She says this put their cars at the risk of being broken into by hooligans.

"All we need is a bridge to cross over the river so that we can go to school and work even during rainy days," she says.

She points out that her school produced a 24percent matric pass rate in 2008 and had improved last year to 54percent - which she reckons is still dismal.

"We would like to perform even better this year and in the future, but because of the protracted problems we have we are helpless and not optimistic about producing good results," she says.

"But we hope the education department will give us a hearing and communicate with the relevant authorities to help us in this regard.

"Our aim is to produce doctors, architects, land surveyors, engineers and journalists.

"But all this will remain a dream if we have to endure this kind of problem every year."

A similar situation is also prevalent around Burgersfort and Lephepane, where schools have been closed since Tuesday due to raging floods.

The hardest hit area is Mankele village, which lies between a mountain and a river.

The river - Lepelle or Olifants - became so full that locals had to go via Segwaigwai to cross over to get to school or miss classes until the rain stopped.

Last year the provincial department of roads and transport promised to build a bridge over the river, but to date nothing has happened.

The spokesperson for the department of education in Limpopo, Ndo Mangala, says the department is not aware of the situation at Nelson Ramodike High School and promised to dispatch a group of inspectors to assess the problem.

He says the inspectors will be sent to the school this week and report back to the department.


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