As the world continues to commemorate former president Nelson Mandela’s legacy, his vision of equal education and strong belief in “education for all as a tool to change the lives of children” remains a dream as schools across the country still face many inequalities.
While other schools reopen, pupils at JB Matabane Secondary school in Tembisa and Job Rathebe Junior Secondary in Orlando East, refused to return for the third term.
They said teaching and learning were taking place in inhumane conditions.
According Nikita Ngomane, a grade 10 pupil at JB Matabane, who organised a peaceful picket outside the school, government has continued to violate children’s rights to education, equality and dignity as guaranteed by the constitution by failing to provide textbooks, tables, chairs and clean sanitation facilities.
“We have endured the worst at this school and instead of things getting better, they are actually getting worse.
“Our school has not been properly maintained and it shows how the government and our principal do not care,” she said.
“Our classrooms are a health hazard, the electricity cables, the sharing of chairs and desks, the toilets, the mobile classrooms are dusty and have also deteriorated.”
Ngomane and her fellow student representative council members handed over a memorandum of demands to the principal and department of education district representative.
“Many pupils here are at risk of dropping out of school because we have unsuitable learning conditions. No parent would ever allow their child to come here if they had a choice,” she said.
“We have just celebrated Mandela Day and in the midst of his teachings and vision, this is what we have to endure in our school.”
School governing body member Pinkie Nokeri said they had contributed and even sought sponsors to help the school, which is dilapidated.
Toilets are overflowing with sewage and there were three children sharing one desk in a classroom.
A parent, Portia Xikoma, said for the past three years, pupils have been complaining about the condition of the school and how it was difficult to learn there.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi had promised to fix the school by 2022, she added.
“The year is almost at the end and we’re still waiting for them to build our children a proper school,” Xikoma said.
“Even the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga sent people here to take measurements, but nothing still.”
Democratic Alliance (DA) basic education spokesperson Baxolile Nodada vowed to look into the matter and ask members of the provincial legislature to carry out oversight at the school as well.
Parents and the school governing body also shut down Job Rathebe Junior Secondary School in Soweto.