Enraged learners torch prefab classrooms in Ventersdorp

Phiri Secondary School was in flames on Tuesday. Photos: Provided

Phiri Secondary School was in flames on Tuesday. Photos: Provided

Learners are furious with the North West department of education for failing to deliver on its promises.

The learners of Phiri Secondary School in Boikhutso village in Ventersdorp are so angry with the North West department of education that they torched the prefabricated classrooms in protest on Tuesday, Potchefstroom Herald reports.

According to community leader Themba Motshwene, the learners have been in these dilapidated asbestos classrooms since 1999. During torrential rains, the classrooms are always flooded, he says.
“Despite endless meetings and follow-ups, nothing has changed except the principals. Some of the learners who matriculated from this school now have children there,” he says.
The learners’ rage was fueled by the department of education’s empty promises that the construction of proper buildings would commence by October 1.
The commitment was made when the department met with the learners earlier this year. “When they saw that nothing was forthcoming and that the relevant stakeholders were not providing feedback, they went on a rampage, torching the prefab classrooms,” he said.
Motshwene says money was budgeted for the new school building in 2013, but he does not know what happened to it between then and when the promise followed the three-day protest in May.
“At the moment, Phiri Secondary School is just a name – the classrooms have been completely destroyed by the fire.
“The police started firing rubber bullets and teargas at the learners. That was uncalled for because a four-month-old baby in one of the nearby houses was also affected by the teargas and had trouble breathing,” he says.
Despite the difficult conditions, Motshwene says the matric pass rate has always been above 80 percent.
Freddy Sepeng, the spokesperson for the department of education condemned the arson, saying the contractor would have started building by the end of this month.
“The Gr. 12 learners will be worst affected, and the department will have to organise camps for the matriculants to prepare for their finals. We will also have to find a venue for writing the exams,” he added.
The North West MEC for Education, Sello Lehari, was in Venterdorp to address this issue on Wednesday.

All the containers used for classrooms were engulfed in the smoke.

– Caxton News Service

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