Pefferville Primary’s pupils still stuck at home

While pupils across the metro have been in classes for a week, children attending Pefferville Primary are still unable to return due to thieves having stolen and destroyed vital infrastructure at the school.

The school was broken into several times between December 16 to 25.

The thieves stole items and infrastructure such as electrical cables, water pipes, computers, stoves, solar panels, sinks and grass cutting equipment.

The ablution facilities were also vandalised.

Last year, the school spent R700,000 on a generator and other equipment to enable classes to run uninterrupted during load-shedding, however, these resources were also stolen or damaged.

The school opened a case with the police, however, a suspect who was arrested was later released due to insufficient evidence.

On advice from the Department of Education, the school has been closed until plumbing infrastructure can be replaced and repaired. To date, no cost assessment reports from the department have been released and no repair work has begun.

Principal George Plaaitjies said: “Without water there are health and safety hazards and there is no infrastructure to help us prepare the meal learners are entitled to, as we are a no-fee paying school.

“We don’t have a fence at the back and so criminals gain easy access to the school.

“It could have been an inside job as the security cameras were turned to face the roof.

“We have tried to employ people from the community, however, if they are involved in vandalising and stealing from the school we will have to consider employing private security companies, to which parents will have to contribute.

“The location of the school is a problem as it is not surrounded by houses.

“It would have been conducive if the school was surrounded by the community.

“If government believes this area is not viable for the school, it could be totally moved to a new area and if they move the school, then we have no say.

“It is up to our communities to own their schools and facilities or it could be taken away.”

Plaaitjies said once pupils returned, the annual teaching plan outcomes would be assessed and to make up for lost time, the test period would be shortened to a week and pupils would complete their continuous assessments in class.

Concerned parents gathered at the school on January 23 to meet with teachers.

One parent, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “The break-ins happened a long time ago so the department cannot take their time while our children are sitting at home.

“We are scared the children are going to start doing drugs and other bad things because when they are in school they are kept away from negative influences in the community.

“We elected the SGB but we have not even been visited by them. They should have led us on this issue.

“We don’t want to fight but it will go as far as that if nothing is being done to open the doors of the school. We cannot have children not in school, our children will be left behind.

“We need the department and the SGB to stand up for us.

“For a long time this school has been among the poorest here and perhaps this is a blessing in disguise so that the department can develop our school to what it should be.

“We are giving the department one week to ensure the children are back in school. we are not backing down from.”

LEFT BEHIND: Pefferville Primary School pupils, who did not want to be identified, standing outside the closed school. Picture: TAMMY FRAY


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