By Mbali Ntuli, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Education:
The DA welcomes a commitment by KZN Education MEC, Peggy Nkonyeni, to dealing with inhumane and appalling conditions being experienced by learners at Mlokothwa High School in KwaNongoma.
In the May 2015 reply to questions by the DA (MLOKOTHWA SCHOOL REPLY), the MEC states that while the school buildings are structurally sound, the KZN Department of Public Works has been appointed to undertake ‘major repairs and renovations’, with the site due to be handed over to the contractor by the end of this month.
She also gives her assurance that doors in the hostel, which were previously missing, will be “covered”. There is no mention, however, of the department providing sufficient beds for learners in the boarding establishment. The MEC further admits that the department is not satisfied with the current ablution facilities in the school.
These assurances come after the DA visited the school in January and found filthy classrooms with broken windows, absent teachers, broken windows, collapsing ceiling boards, disused Science labs, unkempt grounds and clogged up toilets.
An inspection of the school’s boarding establishment further revealed that there were no doors in some parts of the boarding house, exposed live electricity wiring and some learners who were forced to sleep on hard steel due to a lack of mattresses.
Following the visit, the DA called for the school’s finances to be investigated. In the reply the MEC states that a departmental probe has taken place which shows that the school has been administered properly during the past five years.
It remains difficult to comprehend how such despicable conditions exist when Mlokothwa is ranked as a Quintile 4 school with day scholar fees at just over R1 000 per annum and R9 000 for boarders.
Conditions at this school have been exacerbated by the attitude of both the headmaster and his deputies. During the DA’s visit it was clear that they are indifferent to the plight of learners and only interested in taking any responsibility away from themselves.
The MEC, in her reply, indicates that she will ‘see to’ the principal’s behaviour. The DA will hold her to this.
The many commitments made by MEC Nkonyeni are a victory for the learners of Mlokothwa who, for years, have been forced to live and learn in the most squalid conditions.
In addition to this, the DA has received confirmation that the Human Rights Commission is currently attending to our complaint regarding this school. We remain firm in the belief that this investigation and outcome remains critical to ensuring that the school is returned to good order and the pupils rights restored.