Residents of Malebogo at Hertzogville, in the Free State, say they’ve been undermined by the provincial education department because a primary school building project, which began six years ago, is still incomplete.

The project cost the department R49 million, but due to contractual disputes, the school is yet to be finished. Community leader, Ratholoana Monyane says parents are frustrated because some children can’t be accepted at an existing primary school due to overcrowding.

Residents raise concerns over delays in school construction:

Frustrated residents say their joy for the new school has turned to sadness. Construction work of a new school, which started in 2015, was meant to last for a year.

Six years later, the school is 74% complete. Residents complain that some children will miss out on Grade R, a critical foundation for Grade One.

One Parent says, “As a parent, I feel bad because this school delays our child’s education or child’s time because they normally go to school by the age of 9 years or 10 years.”

“We have a big problem. When we register our children for Grade R, some are returned because the school was a certain number. We ask the government to help us solve this,” explains another one.

“Every time the project would commence for three months then it stops, our children are struggling, one school is not enough for all of them. There’s already overcrowding at the existing school.”

Community leader, Ratholoana Monyane says overcrowding in existing schools is the biggest issue.

“It affects our community severely. We have only one Primary School here in Malebogo and there is a lot of overcrowding there. During registrations at school some of our children get returned from the schools they are not accepted due to overcrowding, so this really affects us badly because a budget has been allocated by the government for the construction but six years to date we don’t have a school.”

The Education Department says the project was initially under Public Works. The Education Department took over the project last year.

Provincial Education spokesperson, Howard Ndaba has promised that the project will be completed during the course of the year.

“Until the executive committee of this province said we are transferring the implementing agent part of the work to the department of education. So as the department of education, we started to be an implementing agent in June 2020, we then sat down and reworked the project. A new contractor was appointed.”

Residents say the completion of the school will afford their children an opportunity to learn in a less overcrowded environment.