'Kids packed like sardines'

PARENTS of pupils at Cedarville Public School - 30kilometres from Matatiele - are at loggerheads with the Eastern Cape education department about its plans to evict their children from an old military base.

The department wants the children moved after the parents invaded an unused building at the old military base last Wednesday because they claimed Cedarville Public School was overcrowded.

But the parents are threatening to make the small rural town ungovernable if the department goes ahead with the eviction. They have the backing of the school governing body (SGB) in this matter.

SGB deputy chairperson Gloria Evans said they had been asking the department to provide more classrooms for a long time because of overcrowding. She said as soon the department provided more classrooms they would vacate the building.

"Our children cannot go back to that unhealthy situation. They have been packed like sardines in one class and that is not acceptable. We are not in the wrong because the military base is unused," Evans said.

She said they would continue to use the old military base building until a proper school is built for their children.

"It's not what we voted for. The government promised a better education and when parents start assisting teachers the department acts against us," Evans said.

The school reportedly has more than 1200 pupils from Grade R to Grade 12.

In January more than 400 Grade R and Grade 6 pupils were allegedly moved to the old, unused military barracks to create space to enable teaching and learning to take place while waiting for the department to build a proper school.

Principal Boniwe Mfene refused to comment yesterday. "I am not mandated to speak to the media," she said.

Provincial education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumana could not be reached for comment.