School defects pose danger to teachers, pupils

School defects pose danger to teachers, pupils.
School defects pose danger to teachers, pupils.
Image: paylessimages / 123RF Stock Photo

Teachers at Eqinisweni Secondary School outside Tembisa, north of Johannesburg, have downed tools, complaining about structural defects at their school which pose a danger to their lives.

The teachers complained that even though a report from the engineers sent by the Gauteng department of education showed the school in Ivory Park had problems, the district director still wanted them to continue with classes.

The engineers' report followed the collapse of one of the classrooms during the first week of the national lockdown.

Teachers who spoke to Sowetan on condition of anonymity said the conditions at the school did not allow them to continue teaching.

"Some of the walls are no longer holding, as a result they are shaky. The report from the engineers who came to inspect the school shows clearly that the disaster can happen any time. The department is not serious about our safety, we are worried about our learners... We are not going to be killed by coronavirus but by the building that will fall on us," said one of the teachers.

According to the structural assessment report dated June 18 addressed to the district director, the outer skin of the double brick wall collapsed one of the gabble.

"Wall tiles to connect the gabble to the inner wall were not used. There are signs that the other gabble walls will fall in the same way. There are several portions with lose bricks or some have fallen off. Expansion joint sealant is warn and water seepage through the expansion joints is damaging the concrete at expansion joint interfaces and cracks have formed along the expansion joint concrete," read the report.

The engineers recommended that urgent response was required in cleaning up the debris of the collapse wall and that the area should remain barricaded.

Speaking on behalf of pupils, Mpho Soarathle, said: "The district only cares about marks and attendance stats whereas we attend classes in dangerously cracked buildings. The district [however] declared the other part of the building safe... We cannot worry about being infected by Covid-19 and also having classes falling on us."

Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona said: "The process to appoint the contractor is at an advanced stage. We are also finalising the process to accommodate the school at an identified neighbouring school accordingly."