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Concern about nearly 200 storm-hit KZN schools as academic year starts

19 January 2022 - 17:12 By Mfundo Mkhize
MEC Kwazi Mshengu, deputy minister of basic education Reginah Mhaule and Georgetown school principal Simon Mahlaba during a visit on Wednesday, as KZN schools reopened.
MEC Kwazi Mshengu, deputy minister of basic education Reginah Mhaule and Georgetown school principal Simon Mahlaba during a visit on Wednesday, as KZN schools reopened.
Image: Mfundo Mkhize

Basic education deputy minister Dr Reginah Mhaule has expressed concern that the recent storms which affected at least 190 KwaZulu-Natal schools posed a threat to teaching and learning.

Mhaule, who was accompanied by KwaZulu-Natal education MEC Kwazi Mshengu, kicked off her oversight and monitoring visit at Izwilesizwe Primary before proceeding to Georgetown High in Pietermaritzburg.

Schools in KwaZulu-Natal opened for the new academic year on Wednesday.

“In uMgungundlovu district there are at least 41 schools affected. This does not mean that the children did not go to school.

“The head of department has promised that the department will dispatch mobile classrooms this week which will ensure teaching and learning continue,” she said.

She said in some cases it was not only school infrastructure which was damaged by the storms and rain, but also bridges and roads which led to the schools.

“There are 11 of those schools and we made an instruction for the schools not to open until the water subsides,” said Mhaule.

The minister’s visit comes as schools in uMkhambathini were forced to close because of a legal dispute involving the traditional authority.

“We are going to allow the law to take its course. We are engaging the security cluster together with co-operative governance department to come closer and try to resolve the issue. This cannot be resolved by education,” said Mhaule.

She said she felt encouraged by the number of pupils on the streets making their way to school.

“When we got to Imbali, teachers were all ready to teach and this means that a trend has been set for the whole year,” she said.

Mshengu weighed in on the issue of placements. 

At Georgetown’s entrance, many anxious parents had camped out in a bid to get their children enrolled.

“We are dealing with two categories. One category was recorded by us last year and has seen the number declining. Yesterday, fewer than 600 pupils were yet to be placed. Conversely, there are parents who wake up and have not applied or in some cases applied to one school only,” said Mshengu.

He said some parents would demand a place for their children at a certain school, even after being told the school was full. 

“It happens every year and we are not surprised by this. We have plans to deal with it. We have set up district committees which handle such a scenario,” said Mshengu.

Georgetown principal Simon Mahlaba said despite challenges brought by Covid-19, he was expecting a strong matric pass rate.

“Covid or no Covid, we are not going to dip below 98%. We worked really hard,” he said.

In 2020 the school recorded a 100% pass. He said among a cohort of 108 successful matriculants, 78 bagged bachelor passes, 28 diplomas and two certificate passes.

The school lists higher education minister Blade Nzimande and former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene among its alumni.



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