• Eastern Cape Rising Sun

BCM schools need five million each

The girls have two skipping ropes to entertain themselves.

Imagine a mega primary school with no sports facilities; 1 347 children not actively participating in sport. Pefferville Primary school, on paper offers football, hockey, chess and netball.

In reality, the children play slide on a concrete wall that damages their school uniform and shoes.

The girls play skipping rope during lunch using two ropes for the whole school and the boys have brought their own car tyres from home.

“It’s boring, we play like this every day,” said a 7-year old after finishing her turn at skipping rope. In 2013, Minister of Basic Education in South Africa, Angie Matsie Motshekga came up with Norms and Standards and declared that, “all schools must have areas where physical education, sporting and recreational activities can be practised”.

The catchment area for this school is Pefferville, Parkside, CC Lloyd, Braelyn and Duncan Village; area with an 80% unemployment rate. Adults abuse alcohol and drugs, there is a high reported rate of domestic violence and rape. The number of orphans attending the school grows by the day.

Motshekga claims that the painful legacy of apartheid has led to the uneven development which today sees the Eastern Cape education department with a R73 billion infrastructure backlog; from sports facilities to basic necessities such as water supply.

Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality has a backlog of R5 billion and Pefferville school needs R5 million in order to resemble a proper school. The backlogs include inappropriate structures, sport facilities, nutrition centres, libraries, computer labs, science labs, water, electricity, sanitation, safety, and fencing.

However, Equal Education’s General secretary, Noncedo Madubedube, in a media statement, attributed these backlogs to lack of planning, a lax attitude and a failure to fulfil the most basic duties. Equal Education is a movement of learners, parents, teachers and community members working for quality and equality through analysis and activism.

Aside from lack of sport facilities, Pefferville primary was built 45 years ago as a temporary structure. Mason Mackay, the school principal laments that the three double storey building were built using Chipboard, material that is commonly used for flat-pack furniture, as carcass for kitchen units and worktops.

In 1985, due to riots, 3 classrooms were burnt down rapidly, showing just how flammable chipboard is. In 2002, the school was ravaged by floods and some structures were washed away.

According to Mackay, two years ago the Department declared the school an inappropriate structure according to the Norms and Standards. “In 2010, I was informed that the school was prioritised and has been placed number 2 out of 10 schools that were to be built that year,” recalls Mackay.

“The school can be classified as a sick building. It reflects the community that it serves. It is very expensive to maintain it, as it is crumbling,” he said. The annual R150 000 maintenance budget from the department is a drop in the ocean, as he has to also subsidise the learners because their parents cannot afford to contribute any amount for the running of the school.

According to Malibongwe Mtima, spokesperson for the Department of Education, they are failing to meet the Norms and Standards deadlines due to budget shortages. However, in July, students from Toise high school in King Williams Town marched and blockaded a main road demanding proper toilets. The government built them in less than a month.

“The Department’s Supply Chain Management Policy does permit the deviation from normal processes in specific cases as long the process has been followed and approved by the accounting officer,” an explanation by Mtima. He added that the intention is to improve their response rate and respond timeous so that the public perception is corrected. “This is an on-going exercise and unfortunately it happens when we are experiencing budget constraints which makes us look intransigent”.

Children playing slide during breaktime.

Creativity levels are high at a primary school with no sport facilities.


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