Closure of school irks parents

Canaan Mdletshe and Mhlaba Memela

Canaan Mdletshe and Mhlaba Memela

THE disgruntled parents of pupils at the Sizanotho Primary School in Melmoth, near Ulundi in northern Zululand, are unhappy about their children having to stay at home while others go to school next week.

The school was closed by health inspectors three weeks before the Easter school holidays.

The officials said the building was a health hazard and they feared for the children's safety.

Members of the community say the school building is unfit for pupils. It has no roof, the windows are broken and it resembles the remains of a building in a war zone.

The school was damaged during heavy storms last November, but five months later no attempt has been made to repair it.

Parents fear that their children, who lost considerable learning time before the Easter holidays when the school was forced to close, will "suffer further".

Khiye Zungu has three children attending the school.

"The situation is heart-breaking and education in the area is in crisis," Zungu says.

She says parents have raised the issue of their children's safety with the department of education.

"In response we were provided with three tents but they were later removed by the department of health," she says.

"The authorities said fumes from the material endangered the lives of the children on hot days."

The school principal, who does not want his name published, says the condition of the school endangered pupils' lives.

"We had no alternative but to let them stay at home," he says. "The children's future and education is at stake."

Grade 3 pupil Mcebisi Thabethe says his dream of becoming a policeman might be shattered.

"We spend most of our time playing and roaming around," he says.

At the time of going to press the department of education had not responded.