Irate parents bring school’s challenges to the fore

Solomon Mahlangu Primary School is currently being run from temporary containers.

Parents living in Cornubia are up in arms over the rising challenges which their children are forced to face while enrolled at Solomon Mahlangu Primary School, which was built as a temporary structure in July 2015.

Complaints of poorly ventilated classrooms, unhygienic toilets and the lack of staff which has led to a poor quality of education, are some of the factors which are influencing parents to send their little ones to schools hundreds of kilometres away from home.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, mother of four, Charlene Naidoo*, said she was forced to enroll her children in another school after they notified her of the conditions at the school.

“I speak on behalf of all the children as they are as good as my own. The children are struggling to cope and concentrate in the heat. The classrooms are temporary container structures and are poorly ventilated. The toilets are unhygienic and as a result, children are suffering from infections etc. Some children are not using the toilet for the entire school day which is resulting in bladder infections. The overall upkeep of the school is a health hazard to the young children who attend,” she said.

Another parent who has three children at the school said parents are hoping that the school is seen as a priority in terms of structural completion so that the children can concentrate on learning and not the challenges.

eThekwini Municipality’s communications head, Tozi Mthethwa, said eThekwini’s understanding of the conditions in the temporary school is that the problems are primarily due to under-staffing and that operations at the school are undertaken by Department of Education.

ALSO READ: Parental involvement – a big challenge in local schools

“eThekwini is currently engaging with the Department of Education on this issue. The Cornubia Integrated Human Settlement Project aims to provide a liveable environment in which all residents can live, work, study, play and pray. While social facilities including schools, clinics, and community halls have been planned, the construction and on-going operations of these facilities requires alignment of planning and budgeting across various local, provincial and national departments of the state, including the Department of Education,” she said.

The temporary primary school has been established through the City’s facilitation, to assist residents until such time as the first permanent primary school opens. 

“As the temporary school was intended for short-term use, it is anticipated the some deterioration of the prefab structures will occur.  The permanent facility will be one of the first six star schools (as rated by the Green Building Council) in South Africa.  This permanent facility is in the advanced stages of design and will be built think the current Medium Term Expenditure Framework period,” she added.

Mthethwa further stated that the initial prioritisation during the planning stages included all required social facilities to service the Cornubia community and that the city’s efforts to coordinate the various responsible sectors have been consistent.  She also claimed that securing prioritisation of provincial budgets has been challenging in the past years.

 *Name has been changed to protect the identity of the person.

Yoshini Perumal

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