Parents shut school over lack of hygiene and sanitation
It was like a scene from a wrestling match as parents wrangled with a security guard for the keys to the gate during a protest over lack of screening, sanitisers, soap, and water at a school in Naas, near Komatipoort in Mpumalanga.
Angry parents and residents yesterday shut down Mbazima Primary School, saying this put their children’s life at risk of contracting coronavirus as there were no proper hand-washing basins, soap and water. The school reopened on Monday as grade 7s and 12s returned to school after months of being away due to the global pandemic.
Parents said when their children came home on Monday, they revealed that there was only one water tank and there was no soap or sanitisers provided to them. Parents said there was no screening of children at the gate as well.
“On Monday we thought all was well but after finding out that there was no proper hand washing happening, we went to the school to see for ourselves the next day. We were not impressed and we took the decision to not allow the school to accommodate the children until the department provided it with water, sanitisers and people to do screening were appointed,” said community member Sibusiso Sibiya.
“After we closed the school, the circuit manager came and told us that they have hired people to clean and screen pupils, teachers, and other staff members at the school but they didn’t show up. He even asked us to volunteer; we can’t volunteer when there are people who are being paid, that is an insult,” said Sibiya.
Education spokesperson Jasper Zwane said the department would send an official to the school to evaluate the situation.”We deposited cash to the school to hire people to clean the school. Judging by these allegations, it’s clear the problem lies with the school and the school governing body (SGB) but we can’t pre-empt now,” said Zwane.
Attempts to get hold of an SGB member only known as Zitho were fruitless yesterday as her phone went unanswered. Mbazima Primary is not the only school to be closed by parents. At Mpumelelo Primary School, parents stopped their children from going to school on Monday, saying the toilets at the school were not safe for their children.
They accused the department of promising to rebuild the toilets after a child fell into one of them early last year. At the time, Zwane said the school would be rebuilt and would get 16 new classrooms and toilets in the 2019/2020 financial year. Zwane said an official has been sent to engage with the parents.
Meanwhile, parents concerned that their school was not properly cleaned volunteered their time to do it. Kamogelo Primary School in Westonaria on the West Rand was closed yesterday to allow the parents to clean it after they were unhappy with the dirt they found when they dropped their children off on Monday.
“Learners were only given masks after school and they had been playing outside the whole day because we refused that they should be taught in dirty classes,” said one parent Siphokazi Molefe.”I am hurt because the school does not care about our children,” said another parent Ntombifuthi Mnisi.
The school provided them with pine gel, polish and steel wool. They have also made a commitment to clean the school twice a week to protect their children.
“The parents were not satisfied with the neatness of the said school, which was cleaned on May 31. A decision was taken that the school be temporarily closed for today 10 June 2020 only and be cleaned by parents as per volunteerism. The school will re-open tomorrow [today],” said department of education spokesperson Steve Mabona.
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