The Eastern Cape government has pleaded with communities to play its role in protecting schools from vandalism. This comes as some schools have been damaged so severely that they will not be able to open for the school year, affecting thousands of learners.
For years, the education department has struggled with this issue. Ablution facilities and electricity were damaged due to cable theft.
Parents and learners at Pefferville Primary School in East London accuse the provincial Education Department of dragging its feet in addressing the matter. For pupils, this means their academic time has been put on hold.
“It feels like l doesn’t have a school anymore because my friends are going to school and I’m sitting at home, it doesn’t feel nice to me,” says learner Sesline Lof.
“What can become of our children sitting in the streets, and playing cards? Some of them are playing dice. What can happen to our children, so we need the school to open as soon as possible,” Parent Maria Brown pleads.
The provincial Education Department has rolled up a program of fencing schools that are vulnerable to vandalism. At one of the schools, the fence had been installed, however, vandals managed to break in.
“We have a lot of damage at the school. We are a no-fee school even though our feeding was damaged, our cabling was removed, our gas was stolen, and the school should be made gas compliant again. l had to tell parents to send their children to school with a pack of lunch with water,” says the Principal of Alphandale Senior Secondary School, Gavin Appolis.
The Education Department says it can’t fight the battle against cable theft alone.
“We are calling all community members to work with the department to stop harbouring the criminals when they commit these crimes. They must be reported so they can face the wrath of the law,” says Eastern Cape education department Spokesperson, Malibongwe Mtima.
The department has further stated that it is working around the clock to appoint contractors to the affected schools. It will also introduce a catch-up plan for the schools.
VIDEO: Vandalism brings teaching to a halt at some Eastern Cape schools