Injustices that township school learners face are unfair

Thulani Mbele Running Matters
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As Enoch Mpianzi was laid to rest recently, one of his friends said the lad wanted to become a lawyer so he can provide solutions for people. The injustices of our country are bare even to a 13-year-old.

One of the injustices that I want to believe Enoch would have advocated for is the schooling environment a black child is subjected to in the townships - 25 years after democracy.

The schools that our kids attend are a ticking time bomb, a disaster waiting to happen.

While children in suburban schools die from extra-mural activities like swimming, the children in township schools die from falling into pit toilets.

An easy example is what is happening at Paradise Bend Primary School in Diepsloot, which is a disaster waiting to happen.

Pupils risk being bitten by snakes in the overgrown grass or being electrocuted as there are bare electric wires on the premises.

One Sunday recently, Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi tweeted a picture of the school's admin block vandalised.

"People of Diepsloot, just know that we are not going to fix this! You break it then you must fix it," he captioned the picture.

Lesufi's tweet was posted after protests against foreign nationals in Diepsloot, so it left many with the impression that the protesters had vandalised the school, but according to the community, it was criminals.

After seeing the tweet, a colleague and I dashed out to the school to go report on the incident.

Paradise Bend Primary School is formerly a farm school in Northern Farm, west of Diepsloot, a very small community with less than 100 families.

The drive to the school takes you past what is supposed to be a soccer field, grass as high as the knees of an average height of an adult, sandwiched by two sagging goalposts.

At this point, you are only a few hundred metres from the school, but one can barely make out the school, only the roofs of the structures are visible. We were only convinced by a board that we were on the right path to the school.

At the gate is an empty, dilapidated guard house.

"There is no security at the school, criminals do as they wish," said a member of the school governing body (SGB) as she unlocked the gate for us.

Stunned at our questions about the school being vandalised by protesters, she retorts and tells us that the administration office was vandalised in November by robbers.

Schools such as Paradise Bend Primary School are all over the country, some in rural Limpopo, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal are in even worse conditions.

For example, the story of Lugebhuta High Shool in Mpumalanga, learners are subjected to learning in classrooms without furniture while the department procures furniture.

In response, the department says the SGB can use the maintenance funds to purchase tables and chairs while the department procures furniture. Really? Surely if there were funds furniture would've been purchased by now.

What gets to me as a parent are the conditions our children in townships schools are subjected to learn under.

While pupils in former "model C" schools enjoy activities such as swimming and camping, activities that offer life skills, build character and confidence, pupils in township school are left with the embarrassment of having to relieve themselves out in the open in thick bushes or behind dirty mobile toilets.

The playing fields are definitely not equal, nothing around the schooling environment of a black child says " I want to be a doctor", "I want to be an economist".

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