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Umhlali high school back on drawing board

Ten new schools planned for coastal belt.

With the majority of the 426 government schools in the Ilembe district overcrowded or in a poor condition, the education department is planning to build 10 new schools in the coastal belt.

One area that will benefit will be Umhlali, which is in a dire need of a public high school since RA Padayachee, Sizani Combined and Umhlali Preparatory are without a public high school to feed.

Children from Ballito, Shaka’s Head, and Fox Hill schools travel to Shakaskraal, Tongaat, Stanger or Durban if they cannot afford the private high schools in Ballito and Salt Rock.

The feeder area have been campaigning for a high school in Umhlali for 10 years without success.

Also read: Umhlali Prep stands firm

The main stumbling block is finding suitable land.

Whether this has been resolved is still a major question which Ilembe education director Dr Madondo said he could not yet answer.

Nor could he give a timeline as to when these schools would be built, only confirming that provincial officials had inspected the area and confirmed that the schools must be built.

“KwaDukuza and Mandeni are the areas with the highest growth in our region, with more people from Ndwedwe and Maphumulo relocating here. So much so that there are schools that might be closed in Ndwedwe due to low enrolment.”

RA Padayachee Primary principal Aleen Maharaj said a high school would be a huge help to them and the community of Shaka’s Head.

“Parents will save money because currently they are taking their children to Tongaat and Stanger. I am very excited about this development,” said Maharaj.

The department is planning to extend certain schools, including Tinley Manor Primary and Lloyd Primary in Tshawini.

If all goes according to plan, construction will start before the end of the year.

Another way of resolving overcrowding is to provide free transport for pupils to the schools that have low enrollment.

Currently, there are buses from Shakaskraal and Stanger to schools in Maphumulo and other rural schools.

In Ndwedwe they will be turning Tshelencwadi Primary School into a boarding school. This will open the school up to pupils from further afield.

“We chose this school because it is a new school and it is not overcrowded. We will build hostels to accommodate at least 400 pupils. We still need to build three more boarding schools across the region. But this one will be much cheaper to build as we will not need to start from scratch.”

He said building a new school could cost up to R100 million.

“We are currently negotiating with the tribal authority to give us land to build the hostels, we hope that construction can start in September.”

Unqualified teachers Dr Madondo said out of the 5412 teachers, about 40 were unqualified and by the end of the year, the number should decrease to no more than 20.

“It must be clear that this is not only an issue faced by the Ilembe region. It is a provisional one. The unqualified teachers were given the opportunity from 2010 to 2014 to study and get qualified.

“We have started the process of replacing the remaining unqualified. However, one must take into an account that we cant get rid of a teacher if we do not have a teacher to take over.”

Problematic was the number of teachers not willing to work in rural areas.

“There was a teacher recently appointed to teach maths and science in Ndwedwe. The teacher reported to work for three days and then said the area was too rural and too far.”

He encouraged those who recently graduated with a teaching qualification to get themselves onto the provisional database because when there are vacancies, they hire via the database only.

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