School builds its own classrooms

Zandile Mbabela


mbabelaz@avusa.co.za  


AFTER years of overcrowded classes, using the school library as a classroom and having to walk more than 3km to the local community hall for school functions, the staff, parents and pupils of a Salt Lake primary school have raised more than R400000 to build additional classrooms.


The governing body of Machiu Primary School and principal Ralph Blignaut began fundraising three years ago to build a block of three additional classrooms that will also serve as a school hall if its temporary partitions are removed.


Work on the new structure – built of concrete as opposed to the school’s original prefab buildings – began in December and has been financed by fundraising events and money derived from pupils’ school fees.


The 43-year-old school, decorated with blue car paint, was meant to have been rebuilt 12 years after it was first put up, but has remained on the waiting list.


Blignaut said it was “a mission” walking the pupils more than 3km to the West End Community Centre whenever there was a prizegiving function.


Not using the library for its intended purpose was detrimental to the pupils, he said.


“We began with a dance to raise funds in 2008. We’ve held such events ever since,” he said.


“The money we receive from the department each year is not enough to maintain the building. We rely on help from local businesses, churches and anyone who is willing to come on board this project.”


In 2008, the school received a donation of R10000 from businessman Mkhuseli “Khusta” Jack.


Former South African cricketer Shafiek Abrahams, a past pupil, had also been a great help.


The building is expected to be finished by August, in time for the school’s year-end awards evening in November.


“We are now trying to raise about R200000 to add the finishing touches like windows, doors, paint and the like. We are looking at drawing past pupils in to lend a hand,” Blignaut said.


The school would do its best to maintain the new building through hiring it out to the community.


“The community has been amazingly supportive with this project when it came to their attendance and financial support at the fundraising events.


“It would be a pleasure to be able to provide this facility to them,” he said.

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