Tons of furniture for EC schools
Thousands of brand new and refurbished school furniture items are ready to be delivered to school children that are currently sitting on beer crates, paint buckets and using their thighs to balance school books while doing classwork across the province.
This new batch of furniture has been manufactured and refurbished by men and women who have responded to President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa’s call to set-up manufacturing schemes for school furniture production and to generate jobs for youth.
Just under a million items of furniture are currently required at nearly 24 000 schools in the country.
The Eastern Cape Department of Education has already achieved significant gains in this area in just over a year. Six furniture warehouses were established in 2017 across the province to either manufacture furniture from scratch or to refurbish old furniture. These are located in Queenstown (Komani), Butterworth (eGcuwa), Berlin, Mthatha, Port Elizabeth (eBhayi), and Mount Frere. “The project has delivered 36 000 units thus far in EC schools. Only the Butterworth warehouse does refurbishments of old school desks and table frames collected and delivered to the warehouse by locally based Exempted Micro Enterprises,” said Malibongwe Mtima, spokesperson for the department.
School Principals, Circuit Managers and District Directors are required to verify their furniture requirements to place orders for learner desks, tables and chairs. Between April and June this year, 10 380 furniture items were delivered to schools, with 805 of these being for schools in the BC Metropolitan.
To date the shortage in the province stands at just under 500. Jack Chetty, project manager for the warehouse in Butterworth which started working in November 2017 says he has employed 24 Butterworth locals full time and some on a temporal basis, with eleven females.
“Our target is to complete 250 items per day, 750 per week and 3000 per month through our newly skilled employees. This project is close to our hearts as it serves to ensure that our own children have comfortable furniture to help them focus on their future,” said Chetty.