Overcrowding, asbestos classes remain challenge
SGB vows to take steps to force state to comply
Despite a Gauteng department of education’s promise to deliver 13 mobile classrooms at Noordgesig Secondary School in Soweto, the school still remains overcrowded.
The department instead gave the school eight mobile classes instead of 13 which have not made much difference to the overcrowding challenges at the school.
In 2022 the department identified 29 schools across Gauteng as unsafe schools because they were built from asbestos.. The process to replace it has been slow and marred by land ownership delays, among other things.
Of the 29 schools, four replacement schools have been built while three are in the construction phaseleaving the remaining 22 are in various design phases. In October the school was forced to do rotational lessons after health inspectors prohibited them from using 13 of the asbestos classrooms for grades 8 to 11 learners.
DA’s Khume Ramolifho, in a written legislature question last month, asked MEC Matome Chiloane when his department planned to end rotational lessons at the school.
In his response, Chiloane said: “13 mobile classrooms have been delivered to the school and all learners are back at the school and have resumed normal lessons.”
However, when Sowetan visited the school on Friday there were eight mobile classrooms that were delivered that are now accommodating Grade 8 learners.
Ramolifho told Sowetan that there were 13 asbestos classrooms recommended not to be used, “[the] department must provide same number of classrooms so teaching and learning must continue in a conducive environment. There should be no rotational learning as learners already lost contact lesson time”.
A member of the school governing boy Raven Martin said they would be “surprising” the department next year.
“We are going to surprise them come 2024 because we are clear that the government now wants votes. One of our surprises is that for the first two weeks of school, we will not allow our children to come back to school, we will have a plan of action to make sure that until the department of education, infrastructure or public works come andprovide us with a specific day they will start rebuilding the school. Our intention is not to stop learning and teaching – but to make a point that we cannot continue to bring our children to this type of situation,” he said.
“When the department of health came to close down those asbestos classes, it was a problem for us because of space, they promised 13 mobile classes but you can see there are only eight mobile classes here.
“We need to make sure that the department of education and infrastructure comes to the party come 2024 or else we will make sure that a proper plan of action can be rolled out so that this school can be rebuilt. They say they have closed down the asbestos classes for health reasons but children are still moving past the asbestos classes, standing next to the asbestos classes so what is the reason for closing them down while not doing anything to change the situation?”
The department in their answer to the DA said they appointed the Gauteng department of infrastructure development as the implementing agent to undertake work at the school.
The department said the site development plan had been submitted to the City of Johannesburg and now awaiting approval.
It said the project scope was major rehabilitation and the most recent approved report indicated a budget of R53,5 million.
“The turnaround time for the construction of the school can only be made available upon successful conclusion of stage 4 (procurement) processes as well as the issuance of municipal approvals.”
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