Richmond school struggles after classrooms damaged by heavy rain

Grade 1 and 2 pupils at Sidunge Primary School in Richmond are being taught out in the open after their classrooms were damaged by heavy rains a month ago. The school is one of 300 in the province that have been similarly damaged by storms.

Buhle Zungu, a parent and member of the school’s governing body (SGB), told The Witness that their children have no choice but to bear the heat and the chilly weather.

“It hurts us as parents to see our children sitting out in the sun and sometimes in the cold just to get an education. Even the teachers are suffering,” she said.

Zungu said the two classrooms that were damaged by heavy rains and strong winds were built by parents out of mud about five years ago.

“The former principal had suggested that parents intervene as the school did not have enough classrooms to shelter all the pupils.”

When The Witness visited the school last week, the Grade 1 and 2 pupils were crowded under the pre-school veranda with two teachers shouting over one another trying to teach their groups of pupils at the same time.

“The primary school pupils are not allowed to be anywhere close to the pre-school because they bully the younger children but because of this boiling sun today their principal asked that they be sheltered on the pre-school’s veranda. Normally they are out there in the open and we don’t even have big trees here to give them shelter,” said Zungu.

Zanele Zaca, also a parent and SGB member, said the damaged classrooms were in a terrible state and were not safe to shelter pupils.

“Some parts of the roof were blown off and some parts are hanging inside the classroom. The walls are cracked and the chalkboards are falling off. It is not safe for the safety of our children,” she said.

Zaca said they could not rebuild the classrooms again as that was only a temporary solution.

“We want the department to intervene with urgency as our children are suffering. In this 24 years of democracy no child should be subjected to such conditions,” said Zaca.

Kwazi Mthethwa, Education Department spokesperson, said they were aware of the situation at the school along with about 300 other schools with similar problems.

Mthethwa said they were faced with a large number of schools with school buildings that were also damaged by heavy rains.

He said the department was waiting on this year’s budget but were treating such matters with urgency.

“We feel their pain and we also don’t like our children and their teachers to be exposed to the cold and blazing sun while trying to get an education. We know that this affects the process of learning and teaching but we ask that they be patient and bear with us,” he said.