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Three NC schools shut due to infrastructure challenges

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Three schools in the Northern Cape were closed on Monday due to various infrastructure-related challenges.

File picture: Thomas Holder

THREE schools in the Northern Cape were closed on Monday due to various infrastructure-related challenges.

Provincial Department of Education spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe said the affected schools were Kgomotso High School in Jan Kempdorp, Nico Bekker Primary School in Williston and Hantam High School in Calvinia.

“Kgomotso High School was closed by parents on August 1 as they are awaiting the delivery of four mobile classrooms due to an increase in learner numbers. The delay was created by an unfinished infrastructure project in Kimberley, as mobile classrooms will be relocated from another school to Kgomotso High School. The delivery of the mobile classrooms is scheduled for Wednesday, August 3,” said Van der Merwe.

He added that Nico Bekker Primary School has suffered severe damages at the hands of the very same community it serves.

“Criminal elements within the school community have left this school without electricity and have broken a large number of windows at the school. It’s heartbreaking to see that an institution of learning, located within the community, is vandalised like this. This community needs to take ownership of their school and protect it against any form of vandalism and theft.”

Van der Merwe stated that the department had appointed a contractor to restore the electrification system of the school.

“Work will commence later in the week. The school has an outstanding account with Eskom amounting to over R70,000, which the department will settle to bail out the school. It’s a sad state of affairs at Nico Bekker Primary School and we urge the school community to work with the department to address the challenges this school is faced with.”

He added that Hantam High School remained closed after the community complained that the school building was unsafe.

“The learners were following a rotational timetable model after its first closure. As a precautionary measure, we have assigned our engineers to inspect and assess the rest of the school building. The outcome of their assessment will be made available on Tuesday, August 2, whereby the way forward will be determined. The department has already procured six mobile classrooms and awaits the delivery thereof.

“The MEC for Education, Zolile Monakali, will visit Hantam High School on Tuesday, August 2.”

DA Karoo Hoogland councillor Antonico Steenkamp said Nico Bekker Primary School had been without electricity since March this year due to cable theft at the old hostel building, from where it draws its power.

“The hostel is an abandoned state building, left to the mercy of thieves and vandals,” said Steenkamp.

“The school has been making use of a generator, at a cost of R400 per day for fuel, which is only adequate to provide power to a certain part of the school. The power is not sufficient for equipment like the photocopy machine. This affects the printing of lessons and exam papers. Data can also not be updated on computers and learners haven’t received their reports for the second term. On cloudy days, learners also sit in dark classrooms.”

Steenkamp stated that 80 school windows were broken during the June holidays and pupils are now exposed to the cold following their return to classes two weeks ago.

“Former residents of Williston clubbed together to sponsor the repair of the windows.

“After that, there was another incident at the school whereby classroom doors and locks were broken, resulting in the children having to be sent home again.

“There are no burglar bars and no security guards at the school, both during and after hours, placing the safety of pupils at risk.

“The school has repeatedly requested the Department of Education for help in respect of the ongoing vandalism, damage to infrastructure and in restoring power. The most they received so far was a commitment given today (Monday), that the department will visit the school between August 12-17. They were also informed that the contractor has visited the school and will start with reconnection of the electricity cables on Friday.”

Steenkamp added that parents had to resort to shutting down the school in order to spark a reaction from the department.

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