Water cuts dry up learning

UNPAID water bills have led to a halt in learning.

UNPAID water bills have led to a halt in learning.

Education has been brought to a standstill for the past three days at a number of public schools and educational institutions in the Pietermaritzburg region after the Msunduzi municipality cut off their water supply.

Teachers say pupils had to be sent home because there was no water for the toilets to function properly - or for drinking.

The municipality cut off the water supply after the education department failed to settle its water bills, estimated at over R6million.

The institutions affected include the Durban University of Technology's Midlands campus, Plessislaer FET College and Sukhumi High School.

A teacher who preferred to remain anonymous told Sowetan that the department owed the municipality million of rands in water bills for local schools.

"Teaching has been affected for three days in my school. And we found that a number of schools in the region also suffer the same problem.

"As teachers we cannot continue to teach children under such conditions.

"It's even hard to use the toilets because we are unable to flush properly.

"We are very concerned about the problem because water cuts in schools affect learning and teaching.

"But we are engaging the municipality to find an amicable solution to the issues as soon as possible.

"Currently we are not even aware how much we owe the council until they engage with us," the teacher said.

The Msunduzi municipality is reported to be in financial crisis and is trying to recover all the money owed by its debtors.

Municipal spokesperson Evodia Mahlangu confirmed that the water supply was cut off in some schools.

"I'm aware that our officials have now organised a meeting with the department of education," she said.

Mahlangu could not provide details on how long the department had failed to pay its water bills.