New school planned

Wallacedene Primary School will be built at this site in Sisulu Street.

Overcrowding at a Wallacedene school is set to be a thing of the past once a new school is built.

Siviwe Nodliwa, chairperson of Enkululekweni Primary’s governing body, said temporary classrooms had been set up to handle overcrowding.

The temporary school is known as Ethafeni Primary School and its pupils will attend the new Wallacedene Primary School once it is built. Ethafeni Primary’s acting principal, Sipiwo Dubulekhwele, was a head of department at Enkululekweni Primary before he took up his post at Ethafeni in January last year, when the school was also registered with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).

“Ethafeni currently accommodates a total of 870 learners,” he said.

Department of Transport and Public Works spokesman Byron la Hoe said tenders were being considered for the school project and the site could be handed over to a contractor as early as May.

WCED spokeswoman Jessica Shelver said the school design had been presented to the community in October last year.

The plan was to have building work completed in the 2020/2021 financial year.

Mr Dubulekhwele said some residents had extended their yards onto the site where the school was to built. “But we will find a solution,” he said.

Mr Nodliwa also didn’t feel that was a big problem because residents’ plots had been “properly drawn by the municipality”.

Mr Dubulekhwele said overcrowding had reached a critical point at Enkululekweni in 2016, with more than 1900 pupils enrolled, before part of the school was hived off into temporary classrooms.

“This situation became unbearable and not conducive for learning at all, hence we took a decision to downsize the school by taking a portion of Grade R to Grade 3 to the Ethafeni Primary. Each grade more than doubled.

“Before we experienced overcrowding, we had good results, but we fortunately noticed on time that there was a drop in the results, due to the unbearable conditions,” he said.

Ms Shelver said school infrastructure was a priority for the WCED as was the replacement of inappropriate materials in school buildings.

“Since we took office in 2009, we have built or replaced 120 schools.”

The WCED, she added, had spent R1.6 billion on school infrastructure this financial year.

Meanwhile, Equal Education activist and school parent Vuyokazi Bobotyana said most pupils in the area still had to walk long distances to get to class or rely on public transport.

She and Noxolo Gova have been trying to get the WCED to set up more mobile schools in the area.

“We are still seeing kids sitting at home,” said Ms Gova.

Ms Bobotyana and Ms Gova say they risk their lives to help primary school children cross busy roads to get to class.

The roads near the schools have no pedestrian crossing signals, they say, so they have to physically signal to the oncoming traffic to give way to the pupils.

They believe their efforts have helped to reduce the number of school pupils being hit by cars.

“We just wish most parents could join us to achieve this, but unfortunately, most parents are forced to be at work during the day. We are doing this voluntarily,” said Ms Gova.