President Jacob Zuma’s visit to be able to asses the condition of education in the Eastern Cape had favourable spin-offs for at least one school.
Principal of Thobani Senior Secondary School in Peddie, Simphiwe Mzayidume, reported that construction work on a computer lab that had been all but abandoned in May 2008 was all of a sudden resumed, a week prior to Zuma’s visit to schools in the province.
“Even though I am delighted construction has commenced again, I have to question the reason why it requires a visit by President Zuma to the province to ensure that local government delivers services,” said Mzayidume.
Zuma, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet, Education MEC Mandla Makupula, provincial education superintendent-general Modidima Mannya and Education Deputy Minister Enver Surty visited three schools — Thobani Senior and another two schools in Mdantsane.
“(The Office of the Presidency) continues to be inundated with information that education in the province is in a shambles, which is the reason why we have decided to visit,” said Zuma.
The comments the delegation received was precisely the same at all three schools, staff and pupils protesting and complaining with regards to a number of issues, including deficiencies in resources, poor infrastructure and staff shortages.
Mzayidume explained his school has had several challenges in the past, 2011 being no exception. The school was without a maths teacher from the beginning of the year until March, when a temporary teacher was employed. The school has additionally been suffering from difficulties of insufficient reading and study material, no computer lab along with no proper toilets.
“We have frequently were required to find the money for reading material out of our own pockets. We’ve also were forced to function with one toilet for the girls and no toilet at all for the boys,” added Mzayidume.
He explained inspite of the difficulties, the school nevertheless performed very well. In 2009, the school attained a 100% matric pass rate, which he stated fell to 70% in 2010 a result of the nationwide strike by teachers.
“This school can be described as shining example of what you can do when confronted with adversity. I applaud all of them for their dedication in guaranteeing education is administered despite the odds,” said Zuma.
Motshekga assured urgent measures would be taken to to rectify the issues at Thobani Senior and praised the community for their part in the school’s success.
“The manner in which every person in the community has taken ownership of this school demonstrates that people are concerned about the value of education in this area,” said Motshekga.
She committed herself to finding a permanent maths teacher for the school, creating a science lab and making certain that study materials are delivered.
Zuma at the same time promised the new computer lab would be equipped with 20 computers as soon as it has been completed.