Eastern Cape schools that have it all — except kids to teach

They cost millions to build, now they could be closed down

05 November 2017 - 00:02 By PREGA GOVENDER

Middle Qutsa Senior Primary School was meant to be a beacon of hope for the Eastern Cape village of Ndenxa.
It cost R13.9-million and has a science laboratory and media centre. Now, two years after the new buildings were officially opened, it may close.
Because of dwindling numbers, the school near Cofimvaba may have to either shut down or merge with a neighbouring school.
This is part of the provincial education department's rationalisation plan, which aims to close "very small" primary and high schools that have fewer than 135 and 200 pupils respectively."You can't lift the building and take it to where the learners are," Mbinda said.
Tshaka Nolusindiso, secretary of the school governing body at Middle Qutsa Senior Primary, said parents had contributed to building the school where a mud school had once stood. Nolusindiso said it would be "very painful" if it were to close.
"The children are too small to travel long distances and parents don't have money to pay for transport. There will be a lot of opposition from parents if the school is closed."
Mahlathini Junior Secondary School is another potential white elephant. The new buildings include an administration block, a science laboratory, multipurpose centre and three classrooms, which cost R14-million. They were opened last year in June.
A further R9-million was previously spent on extensions.
The school's principal, Columbus Xhala, said the school was told last year it "was subject to a closure or merger" because its enrolment was fewer than 135. There are only three pupils in Grade 8 at the school.
Parents of pupils attending Lufukufu Senior Primary in Catshile village, about 18km from Tsomo, wrote to the provincial education department asking it not to close the school.
"Our school is new; our school is well built and also well fenced and well secured. Our children are very, very small and they cannot travel a long distance to attend another school. Please do not close our school," they wrote.
The new buildings at the former mud school, constructed at a cost of R14.6-million, was opened in November 2014.
"Some of the schools around here are not well built. This is the only school that's well built. How can this school be closed?" said the principal, Jongikhaya Majezi.
"If scholar transport is provided, our numbers will increase."Mziwamadoda Mkentane, the principal of Ndyebo-Ntsaluba Senior Secondary in Tsomo, said pupils still had to study in dilapidated buildings while new schools had been built in villages where there was a declining pupil enrolment. Ndyebo-Ntsaluba Senior Secondary has 405 pupils.
At least 103 Grade 11 pupils sit crammed in a dingy classroom during English, Xhosa and life orientation lessons.
He said his school had been placed No1 on the priority list for new schools as far back as 2004 but nothing had been done.
"You can't just build a school where you see that there is no future there. Children are leaving rural areas because parents are getting urbanised. People are looking for a good education and if you come to rural areas they are the recipe for failure," said Mkentane.
The Eastern Cape education department failed to respond to detailed questions that were e-mailed to it.
Some of the one-teacher schools in the E Cape:
• Roodebloem Primary: two pupils
• Golden Valley Park Primary: three pupils
• Constantia SSKV Primary: five pupils
• Lendek Farm School: five pupils
• Lucebiso Farm School: six pupils
• Mdlankomo Primary: six pupils
Some of the high schools with under 200 pupils:
• Newtown High
• Healdtown Comprehensive
• Klipplaat Senior Secondary
• Masizakhe High
• Tamsanqa Secondary
• Thubelihle Senior Secondary
• Tinara Secondary

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