JOHANNESBURG – while hundreds of pupils began their first day of school at the newly built Everest Primary School in Westbury this week, another school in Noordgesig a few neighbourhoods away is still waiting for the government to fulfil its promise to refurbish its dangerously dilapidated structures.
When opening the R97 million Everest Primary School, Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said: “We are not opening just an ordinary school. This is a school with child care facilities and laboratories that matches private schools. This is a school with a properly constituted dining hall so the children don’t have to sit under trees.”
Pupils at Noordgesig had a different first day of school. They faced cracked walls under asbestos roofs, dirty toilets that don’t flush as well as prefab classrooms that are in a state of collapse reminiscent of an abandoned hostel. Broken furniture and litter peppered the ground on the inside and outside of the school.
The community of Noordgesig were some of the reasons they would not allow teaching to resume at the school. They’ve been protesting since Wednesday morning, even after 10 adults and one child being injured by rubber bullets during a clash with police.
Parents also said the promise of meetings between Lesufi and the community had not taken place. One parent, Anthony Williams, said the community was working with church leaders to find an alternative venue for classes as the school’s structures were no longer safe.
Photo Credits – The New Age