Pupils forced to endure the harsh weather conditions after arsonists attack school
Hundreds of learners in Vuwani have been forced to learn under the trees in adverse weather
conditions after arsonists burnt their school. Mugoidwa Secondary school in the troubled Limpopo area was torched last week as pupils prepared to resume classes after a three-month break caused by strikes over municipal demarcation disputes. The National Department of Basic Education said that the latest attack on public property would push costs related to the burning of schools in Vuwani this year alone to more than R440 million.
Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said that the unfortunate incident would have a negative impact on the department’s budget, examination preparations and the overall provision of school infrastructure in Limpopo. “This incident just increased the cost, which is a problem because we already asked for money for those schools, and we must now go back and make additional requests,” said Mhlanga.
“We are extremely worried because already the province has a backlog when it comes to school infrastructure. There are schools that are yet to be repaired from the natural disaster that happened previously due to rains and winds.” More than 23 have been burnt in Vuwani since May after residents lost a high court bid to have the Municipal Demarcation Board’s decision to incorporate their area into the newly created Malamulele Municipality set aside.
When the schools re-opened on Wednesday last week, the pressure and impact of the violence strike on local pupils was palpable. At Avhatodwi Primary School, learners had to brave cold weather to resume lessons under trees after their classrooms were torched. The same situation played itself out in other affected schools as pupils waited for the government to deliver mobile classrooms. Mhlanga said they had already requested additional funds to repair damaged schools in Vuwani. The arson attacks on public property were putting a strain on the department’s limited resources, he added.
“It becomes unbearable for us, and causes a huge strain because we never plan for schools to be burned down but you can make a plan for natural disasters. There are other schools that are in bad shape that needed fixing and we can’t even do that because of the damage that is taking place,” Mhlanga added. He said in addition to repairing damaged schools, the department still had to procure mobile classrooms and furniture that were needed urgently. “If we don’t, learners will not have a place to study and there is procurement and procedure that needs to be followed to make sure that we go through that.” However, Mhlanga said they were impressed with learners turn out in Vuwani, adding that “teaching and learning” were continuing even in the affected schools. Sadly, the attack on Mugoidwa occurred just days after senior traditional leaders and the government signed a peace deal aimed at resolving the demarcation issue.