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Parents shut down Soweto school in protest at bad state of building

Toilets broken with water all over the floor

Learners outside Thubelihle High in Jabavu, Soweto after parents complained about the state of the infrastructure at the school.
Learners outside Thubelihle High in Jabavu, Soweto after parents complained about the state of the infrastructure at the school.
Image: Penwell Dlamini

Learning was disrupted at Thubelihle High school in Jabavu, Soweto, on Thursday morning after parents shut the school, demanding that the Gauteng department of education addresses the issue of poor infrastructure.

Members of the school governing body (SGB) told Sowetan that the school has been in a bad state over the past five years.

“Yesterday [Wednesday] there was a meeting between the principal and the parents of Grade 12 learners. That is when the parents expressed their anger that the school has been in a bad state for five years now. As parents we feel we need to act and take up this issue.

“As the SGB we’ve submitted a letter to the office of the MEC [Panyaza Lesufi]. We also sent an email expressing our dissatisfaction about the conditions of the school but no action has been taken,” said Brenda Mfazi, treasurer of the SGB.

The school which is situated next to an old church has an old dilapidated block with a zinc roof that is falling apart. Parents fear that the roof may be blown away by the wind and harm the children. The school has an agreement with the church to accommodate Grade 12 pupils at the building.

Mobile classes that have been provided by the department have broken windows and the wooden floors have holes. The classes are filthy. Toilets are broken with water all over the floor.

“We are the only school in Soweto that is still using the rotational system. We have about 1,000 learners, but due to the state of our classrooms, we cannot accommodate all learners back. We want the MEC to come and meet us to address our concerns,” Mfazi said.

Eight mobile classes that have been provided by the department.

Another SGB member, Zukile Buda, said the department started the project of refurbishing the old classrooms in 2019 and only six classrooms were upgraded.

“Even those classrooms have not been fully completed. It is really frustrating for us as parents,” Buda said.

Pupils who spoke to Sowetan said learning inside the mobile classes is difficult.

“These classes are extremely cold now that it is winter. It is difficult to concentrate when we are taught. When it rains, the rain comes in because the windows are broken. It is really unacceptable for us to be expected to learn under such conditions,” said one grade 10 pupil.

Despite the poor infrastructure, Thubelihle High has been able to do well in its results, achieving a 97.8 % matric pass rate last year, and 88% and 91% in the previous years.

Sowetan has sent questions to the Gauteng department of education on the issues raised by the parents.

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