Pretoria – A number of organisations that are committed to improving quality education in South Africa are calling on citizens to make contributions to get schooling in the Vuwani area back to normal.
On Wednesday, the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), SECTION 27, Basic Education for All (BEFA), Helen Suzman Foundation, Kagiso Trust and Department of Basic Education briefed media in Pretoria on plans to raise funds and restore teaching and learning in the affected schools in Limpopo.
NECT CEO Godwin Khoza said learners have lost 10% of their schooling time since protests started in the area, and a further 30% could be lost if teaching and learning do not resume immediately.
So far, the organisations have managed to raise R1.4 million. However, more is needed to restore the burnt schools that have affected about 52 800 learners in Vuwani and surrounding areas.
Today the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to restore peace and stability in Vuwani and the surrounding villages visited schools there and called on the entire community to help facilitate the resumption of teaching and learning.
The meeting in Pretoria, meanwhile, rallied citizens to get on board by contributing to get schooling to resume.
“We call for financial and in-kind contributions to facilitate the speedy resumption of learning and teaching,” said Khoza.
NECT said it is opening a dedicated bank account for financial contributions with the First National Bank (FNB) and details will be posted on www.nect.org.za as soon as the process has been expedited.
Khoza said immediate and critical requirements of the affected schools include building services and materials for the renovation of classrooms that are not so badly damaged.
Three thousand chairs and tables or desks, 398 teacher chairs and tables, 126 computers, 24 projectors and screens, 26 photocopy machines, 45 printers, 119 cabinets and 50 bookshelves are also needed.
Reading material such as Tshivenda and Xitsonga readers, textbooks and study guides are needed too, as well as stationary supplies. Supplementary teaching programmes for 58 primary and 28 secondary schools are needed.
Themba Mola of Kagiso Trust said they want to focus mainly on infrastructure so that schooling can resume as soon as possible before the midyear examinations.
Kagiso Trust has pledged R1 million, while Rebone Furniture Group has committed to donate tables and chairs for 1 000 learners.
Section 27 Executive Director Mark Heywood said the burning of schools in Vuwani and surrounding areas broke his heart.
“It breaks our hearts because Vhembe, where the schools have been destroyed, is one of the best performing districts in Limpopo,” said Heywood.
He appealed to parents and residents in urban areas near Vuwani to have empathy and understanding with learners and show solidarity.
Heywood and some of his colleagues have committed to running Comrades Marathon next month with the aim of raising about R1 million from supporters and individuals to make contributions towards restoring learning in Vuwani.
He said this is important as they are trying to build empathy and to twin rural schools with urban ones.
Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga expressed gratitude towards the support shown by education stakeholders and communities on this matter.
“We spoke to many learners in that area. They want to go back to school but there are some schools that have been completely gutted, which means we have nothing left. We have a lot to do.
“There is a lot of rebuilding that needs to take place. We are also encouraged by a lot of dedication shown by community members who came to the schools and assisted in the cleaning up. That shows that learners and the community in that area are serious about education,” he said.
Mhlanga said there are also community members who protect the schools, with some even sleeping on the premises in night shifts to ensure that no more damage occurs at the schools.
“We appreciate their efforts as well. We always say education should be a societal issue. This is testament to that, as people are releasing their resources to assist learners in Vuwani,” said Mhlanga.
He said the department does not know when the rebuilding of schools will take place. He said the department has approached National Treasury. However, the rebuilding of schools is a process because plans need to be done from scratch.
He hoped that individuals and many more private entities will mobilise resources to speed up the process of getting learners back to school.
Mhlanga said mobile classrooms have been delivered and teaching has started in some of the schools. He said the department will ensure that a total of 74 mobile classrooms are delivered by Friday.