Bathurst school still struggling

CANDICE BRADFIELD

BATHURST Primary School is still struggling to stay afloat due to insufficient funding from the department of education and a resistance from parents to pay school fees.

DA councillor Raymond Schenk visited the school recently and spoke to principal Jill McLeod who agreed that he can speak in her stead.

According to Schenk, the school has only received R14 800 this year, which is less than what they pay in salaries for one month.

“The department of education is also not being helpful by not paying the school what is due to them. It is a miracle that they school has survived seven months into this year,” he said.

Besides a small percentage of the pupils which are exempt from paying school fees, the rest should be paying R350 a month. To date, only 50% of the school fees due are paid up, said Schenk.

“If all the parents paid the fees owed to the school it would help cover the cost of the basics. A number of parents refuse to pay any fees and openly challenge the school to take action against them,” he said.

He said the school governing body is inactive and ineffective which seems to be part of the reason parents are not paying school fees.

If the funds run out, two of the four teachers who are paid by the school governing body will leave. This would mean that two teachers would be left to teach 108 pupils.

In addition, Schenk said the school buildings and classrooms are is a poor state of repair and are in need of repainting. The ablution facilities are inadequate and old and the system gets clogged regularly. The school does not have computers, a laboratory, sports fields or a library, and they do not have funds for maintenance or updating their facilities.

So far this year they have received books intended for Tsonga language pupils.

“How these books landed up in Bathurst instead of Limpopo is anyone’s guess,” said Schenk.

They also received English second language books instead of first language books. He said McLeod has reported both incorrect deliveries to the authorities, but that no one has collected the Tsonga books or replaced the English ones.

Schenk has spoken to a DA member of the provincial legislative who has written to the MEC for Education and they are awaiting a response.

Schenk did note that two prefabricated classrooms are being erected which will help somewhat.

Provincial spokesman for the department of education, Malibongwe Mtima, said they were trying to make sure that the school continues to run normally and does not close. He said the department last sent the school money on June 21 and that they were in the process of filling the two teaching posts.

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