Section27 calls for end to #EndTreeSchools in Limpopo

Jacob Rapudi, a teacher at Makangwane Secondary School, conducts a lesson under a tree. (Antonio Muchave/SowetanLive)

Jacob Rapudi, a teacher at Makangwane Secondary School, conducts a lesson under a tree. (Antonio Muchave/SowetanLive)

Advocacy group Section27 is taking on the Limpopo department of education over the dire state of the infrastructure of a public school in Non Parella, in the Capricorn District.

Representing the governing body of Makangwane Secondary School, a no-fee school serving the surrounding rural community, Section27 will present its case in the Limpopo High Court on Tuesday.

In a press statement released on Monday, the organisation said the poor state of the school’s infrastructure came to a head in January, when the corrugated iron roof of one of the classrooms blew off nearly injuring learners. 

Pupils were then moved out of classrooms to learn under trees. Section27’s application seeks to ensure that learners there are taught in facilities which are adequate and safe before the start of the new school term.

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“It is irrefutable that in its current state, Makangwane School poses a severe risk to the safety of learners and teachers at the school and needs urgent intervention,” the statement reads.

In the heads of argument, advocates Chris McConnachie and Nikki Stein, counsel for the school’s governing body, contend that despite being aware of the condition of Makangwane’s infrastructure, the department failed to address the problem.

At the end of May, after the emergency application was launched, the department refuted claims it has neglected pupils at the school in an interview with the Sunday Times.The organisation is seeking an interim interdict requiring the department to implement short-term measures to aid learning.

These measures must include the delivery of at least five mobile classrooms, adequate school furniture to allow all pupils to have their own space to read and write and a catch-up plan to compensate for the gaps in the curriculum as a result of the disruptions in the first half of the year.

Section27 is seeking a further interdict directing the department to develop and begin implementing a plan to attend to the infrastructure problems at Makangwane, as well as an order directing the department to regularly report to the court.

Additionally, the organisation has accused the department of “unilaterally, and without following the mandatory consultative process prescribed by the Schools Act” merging Makangwane with the neighbouring Sephaoweng primary school. 

Speaking to the Sunday Times, the department’s spokesperson Sam Makondo said, “The school is a small school. It cannot exist on its own … Parents at the school do not want to be moved to a new school. They are denying that the school be closed even though we have provided an alternative.”

While the governing body of Makangwane does not necessarily oppose the merger, they are concerned the current approach to the merger “threatens to compound the rights violations” by presenting further risks to the rights of pupils at both schools.

Makondo did not respond to the Mail & Guardian’s questions, as the matter was already being heard in court.

Sarah Smit

Sarah Smit

Sarah Smit both subs and writes for the Mail & Guardian. She joined the M&G after completing her master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Cape Town. She is interested in the literature of the contemporary black diaspora and its intersection with queer aesthetics of solidarity. Her recent work considers the connections between South African literary history and literature from the rest of the Continent. Read more from Sarah Smit

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