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Mamelodi East community close 'overcrowded' school, demand extra mobile classrooms

02 March 2022 - 16:48
One of the classrooms at the school.
One of the classrooms at the school.
Image: Supplied

Community members in Mamelodi East extension 18, Tshwane, have closed Sediba Sa Thuto Primary School, demanding more mobile classrooms to address overcrowding.

Parents demonstrated at the school on Wednesday and vowed it would stay closed if authorities did not deliver on their demands.

According to parents, there are about 75 pupils in each mobile classroom.

“As a parent, I am fighting for the school. Our children are suffering. Our children sit on the floor ... They must fix our school,” said Charlotte Seletisha.

She said problems included a lack of toilets, overcrowding and broken infrastructure.

“Last time my child came home and complained that they couldn’t open windows in the classroom and it's hot. He complained that they have to wait for other pupils to finish eating so that they can share the plates. Their toilets don’t work. They should fix the school for our children.”

Last week I went to report to a teacher that my child was sick and the teacher asked who my child was
Parent Erna Mokoena

Another parent, Erna Mokoena, said the number of pupils per class ranged from 70 to 80.

“There are no chairs, they sit on beer and cold drink crates and some sit on the floor and on top of their school bags. That is why we have closed the school so that the government can, at least for now, increase classrooms. Each container must have 35 pupils,” she said.

Her child was tired of complaining.

“Some sleep in the class and teachers don’t know them all because they are many. Last week I went to report to a teacher that my child was sick and the teacher asked who my child was.”

The parents dismissed allegations that they were members of the notorious “Boko Haram” gang and said they would guard the school against harm.

Another parent, Thulani Mabena, said: “We want the department to bring at least 10 mobile classes to reduce the overcrowding. We want a permanent school structure, that is why we are fighting. It's been 15 years with the school having mobile classrooms. The toilets are scary, I wouldn’t use them and I wouldn’t allow my child to use them either.

Our children cannot sit on top of crates. We are not fighting with the school, we are fighting the method being used at the school. The department must take us seriously. If possible, Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi must come. Children are feeling pain with the crates, how can they concentrate?”

Parents say they will guard the closed school against harm.
Parents say they will guard the closed school against harm.
Image: Shonisani Tshikalange

Photographs shared by parents showed pupils sitting on crates or the floor. Some shared a single chair.

Zandile Tshabalala said the school will not open until the problems are addressed.

“This school will not open up until they respond. We cannot bring our children to this school until they respond. Schools will close and open while this one remains closed. The school is not on fire, no-one will burn it. Our intention is not to burn the school but to fix it.”

The Gauteng education department is aware of the situation. Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said a commitment had been made to deliver mobile classrooms to address overcrowding.

“Further concerns and issues are being investigated and will be addressed accordingly. Therefore we implore parents and the school community to refrain from disruptive behaviour.”

TimesLIVE


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