Teaching and learning did not resume in seventeen schools in KwaZulu-Natal due to storms that damaged some schools as well as an ongoing legal dispute relating to the local traditional leadership in the Mkhambathini area. Eleven schools at KwaNyavu under the Mkhambathini Local Municipality in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal did not open today.
This is after educators received threats not open school gates allegedly from disgruntled community members. Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu, together with Basic Education Deputy Minister Dr Reginah Mhaule, visited schools in Pietermaritzburg to assess the reopening.
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education says it decided to delay the reopening of all 11 schools in Mkhambathini after some community members threatened teachers not to enter the school premises.
MEC Kwazi Mshengu and Basic Education Deputy Minister Dr Reginah Mhaule assess schools in KwaZulu-Natal:
The area also made headlines during the 2021 local government elections when the community blocked people from voting.
The Basic Education Department is calling on the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to resolve the issue of traditional leadership at uMkhambathini which has disrupted schooling in the area.
Mhaule says the decision to delay the reopening of all affected schools is for the safety of learners and educators.
“We are going to allow the law to take its course but not to say we are folding our arms, we are engaging the security cluster to come closer to the space and resolve it. Because it cannot be resolved by education only because it is a CoGTA matter and at the same time it is a security cluster matter. So, we are now waiting for them to tell us if the ground is ready for us and we can go open the schools. “
Schools damaged by storm
Meanwhile, Dr Mhaule says the programme of fixing more than 190 schools that were damaged by storms in the province is under way. Six other schools have not been opened in Ladysmith as they could not be accessed due to storms that have caused havoc this week.
“The Department of Education in KZN felt that those 11 schools must not open today until the water subsides and it will make them easy to access the school. But on the other 30 schools, there is a program of addressing those schools. Our contractors are on site as we speak, trying to fix the roof and making sure that there must be a roof on top of the learner. Where it is bad, mobile classrooms have been placed.”
Vaccination of learners
MEC Mshengu says they will embark on a campaign to encourage learners to vaccinate for COVID- 19. He says they want to ensure that learners return to school full-time.
“We are going to embark on a market drive to vaccinate our learners with the launch that will happen at the beginning of February. But we are not going to force any learner to take vaccination just like we did with the educator, there’s no educator that was forced. But the majority of them, 98% came up and said let’s vaccinate and we are hoping the same from learners. One thing that we need is stability in the sector. The rotational timetable is really affecting us. It is not working out for the Department of Education.”
Mshengu is optimistic that law enforcement agencies will be able to bring stability to Mkhambathini so that schooling can resume.
Parents whose children have not yet been placed have been assured that all learners will be placed by the end of next week.