Squeeze is on as children outnumber chairs

Khanyi Ndabeni HERALD REPORTER

CHILDREN at many township schools in Nelson Mandela Bay are forced to
share a desk with up to nine other pupils, while three children often
squeeze onto one chair in classrooms that have not been supplied with
furniture since the 1980s.

At Sipho Hashe Comprehensive School in Kwazakhele, teachers and
pupils have to go around looking for chairs and desks in other classes
before teaching time starts.

 

This bathroom is an indication of the problems facing Sipho Hashe Primary School
This bathroom is an indication of the problems facing Sipho Hashe Comprehensive School

The school opened seven years ago when two primary schools – Zikweni
and Mathodlana – merged to form one school using the building of
Mathodlana primary school. To date no furniture has been delivered by
the Department of Education.

 

“Each class has about 30 learners, those who are lucky to get a
chairs during the first period have to carry them the whole day as they
change periods from one class to another,” said school teacher Nokuzola
Mabeqa, who is also a member of the School Governing Body.

“Those who can’t find a chair or desk have to sit on the floor,
making it difficult for them to write their notes. We also experience a
lot of disturbance during teaching time as one learner will report that
they cannot see the board because she or he is obstructed by another
learner who is seating on a chair or table.”

Mabeqa said that after the merger the government had built five
classes. The school initially had 16 classrooms and about 420 pupils.
Now all the 700 pupils at the school need to occupy the 21 classes.

“We survive by asking for donations from private companies. We are
still trying to market our school to private companies we hope that
since it is named after one of the slain Pebco members companies might
donate some of the items we need,” said Mabeqa.

At Thembelihle Comprehensive School in New Brighton, the principal
would not speak to The Herald team, but pupils said some classrooms did
not have windows or doors.

“So in winter we are forced to steal windows and doors from other
classrooms, anything that will make our class warm,” said one of the
pupils.

“The teachers know about this and sometimes encourage us to go and steal tables for them as well.
“I do not know why they will not admit that there is a shortage in
school equipment. I came to the school four years ago and have not seen
any new chairs or tables”, she said.

At Pendla Primary School in New Brighton, many children fall off their broken chairs daily as most seats and desks are loose.

Pupils say they have to be careful when sitting down or standing up
as the desk might fall on them or chairs tear their uniforms.
“Some of our pupils have to sit on the floor,” said teacher Makhaya Thabe.

“Sometimes they get sick and we sent them home, there’s really
nothing we can do. Every year we apply for furniture but government does
not supply us.”

A Chapman High School teacher said his Gelvandale school had a shortage of about 300 desks.

He said they had written to the education department about the issue on numerous, but to no avail.
“The school fee is R800 for the whole year, but our collection rate is
just 30%,” he said. This was because most pupils came from disadvantaged
backgrounds.

Education spokesman Loyiso Phulumani said schools were given a budget
each year and should spend the money on things that were needed most.

“Most of the schools do not know how to use the budget allocated to
them. They prioritise things that are not necessary for the school,” he
said.
Additional reporting by Luyolo Mkentane

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