‘Temporary structure’ to be revamped after 45 years
One of the oldest schools in Port Elizabeth’s northern areas, Bethelsdorp High, is receiving an R80-million revamp which promises to make it the most stateof-the-art school in the area when completed in 2019.
Principal Leon Arendse said the school was built in 1972 from prefabricated materials as a temporary solution, after the forced resettlement of coloured people from areas such as South End by the apartheid government.
“At the time, they said the school would only be used for 15 years,” he said.
“They said 15 years was the lifespan of the temporary structure.
“The school is now 45 years old so this is long overdue.
“There was some refurbishment in the 1980s but the existing school should have been demolished long ago.”
Arendse said contractors took over the site in February and were demolishing the old Bethelsdorp Technical College section, where the new school would be built.
The school will consist of 27 classrooms, to be built over eight blocks.
It will also have a modern computer room, a new library, a hospitality classroom with its own kitchen, a mechanical workshop and an engineering graphics and design hall.
There will be biology and science laboratories and a multipurpose hall.
Each lab and workshop will have its own office and storeroom.
“There will also be a new tuckshop with a separate dining hall for the school nutrition programme,” Arendse said.
“There will be another dining hall big enough to accommodate 200 people which will be used for special occasions.”
Once completed, the school would be the only comprehensive school in the northern areas, and would offer subjects such as mechanical engineering and hospitality, he said.
It will also have a new administration block with offices for the principal and two deputy principals, a counselling boardroom, a strongroom, a storeroom, a staffroom, staff kitchen, and male, female and disabled bathrooms.
There will be a courtyard area for assemblies, which will double as two volleyball courts.
Arendse said every head of department would have their own office, meeting room and store room.
Classroom sizes will be about 60m², instead of the current 48m².
Arendse said the school would accommodate 1 000 pupils.
One classroom block will enclose a double netball court, and a separate sports field is planned.
A water tank will be able to provide the school with enough water for 48 hours in the event of any disruptions to the municipal supply.
There will also be a guardhouse and a caretaker’s office, a garage and changerooms.
“This was a dream of our former principal, Raymond Uren. He actually believed this would be a reality in the ‘80s,” Arendse said.
“Unfortunately, he died before it happened and he was succeeded by Rodric Peffer, who has since retired.
“Hopefully I will be the lucky principal who will open this school in two years’ time.”
The contractor, from Mtawelanga-MCC Joint Venture, Prince Lufu, said the goal was to open the new school by early 2019 and then completely demolish the existing prefab structure.
“This school is going to be stateof-the-art. It will be fully brick and mortar, no prefab materials at all, and it will be facebrick in a modern setting,” Lufu said. “Because it’s being done on a slope there will be a series of ramps and walkways.
“We are building over 1 500m². We will also be doing full landscaping on the sports field.
“Being part of something that will assist the community is most important for us.
“We understand the history of the school and are mindful of the challenge. We are determined to deliver a great school.”
Attempts to obtain comment from provincial education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima were unsuccessful.