Teaching in Etwatwa a daily battle

Though the winter cold pierces the dilapidated mobile classrooms at the Amos Maphanga Secondary School and pupils bring blankets to keep warm, it protects them from other elements that bring teaching and learning to a stop.

In summer, when it rains, the classrooms and grounds of the school in Emaphupheni, Etwatwa in Ekurhuleni, are flooded, forcing pupils and teachers to stay home. When it has rained the day before, pupils and teachers spend a good part of the morning cleaning up classrooms before classes can resume. Pupils and teachers move furniture and learning materials to the middle of classrooms to safeguard it from water that seeps through the gaps between the roof and walls of the temporary structures.

Added to that is the scorching heat in classrooms, which are so overcrowded that there is no space between desks. The school was started by the community in 2011 because there was no school in the area.

The school has no library and sports grounds, or a storeroom for books. Books are stored with cleaning chemicals.

General parents’ meetings are held under the carport.

A few kilometres from Amos Maphanga, is the Silindokuhle Primary School in Barcelona. Here Grade 1 classes have up to 61 pupils per class. Some Grade R classes share one classroom, with teachers taking turns to teach. There is no room for teachers to interact with pupils.

Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, giving feedback on the progress of the ANC’s mid-term strategic framework priorities during its lekgotla held in January, reported that less than half of the projects to provide “school physical infrastructure and an environment that inspires learners to learn and teachers to teach” were on track.

Among the challenges that contributed to the poor delivery of school infrastructure, Gungubele highlighted the shifting of funds away from the basic education sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic; poor performing contractors and poor contract management – issues that are being addressed.

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