BARBERTON – At 07:20 on Wednesday when the bell rang to signal the first day of learning for 2019, learners from Barberton Secondary School had no classrooms to enter.
The Mpumalanga Department of Education failed to honour its promise to deliver mobile classes to the school and ensure learning and teaching would resume on the first day of term.
The school was struck by lightning on December 20, and the resulting fire damaged 16 classrooms, not seven as was previously reported.
Read More: School to resume with mobile classes
According to school principal, Mthobisi Sithole, they will need a total of 15 mobile classrooms to accommodate the more than 650 learners enrolled.
Sithole said on the first day of school, they only managed to place the grade 11s and 12s.
“The other grades, seven, eight and nine, have no classes. They will have to wait for mobile classes before they can start with their lessons. As it stands, the department has not advised us as school management what to do. To tell them to stay at home until all 15 mobile classes have been delivered or to keep on coming to the school?” said Shongwe.
When Lowvelder visited Barberton Secondary on Wednesday, some of the pupils were found outside, some roamed the schoolyard while others were collecting their stationery.
Only the grade 11 and 12 learners were found in their classrooms. They complained that those outside would disrupt them when they started with lessons.
Zandro Labuschagne, sales manager of Afri Cabin Building System, which is contracted by the Mpumalanga Department of Education to provide the mobile classes, said they will be able to provide all 15 mobile classes by next Wednesday.
The company is based at Midvaal, Vereeniging in Gauteng. They use abnormal trucks to transport the mobile classes. One truck is needed to transport one mobile classroom.
Jasper Zwane, departmental spokesman, said initial reports indicated that only seven classrooms had been destroyed.
Read More: Lightning strikes a school in Barberton
“But later after, another inspection, our technical team advised us that it would be unsafe to continue with classes on the ground floor while we repair the upper ones. We were then forced to procure 15 mobile classes. Also, the issue of the prohibition of heavy-load trucks on busy roads during the December holidays had an impact on the delivery,” said Zwane.
He thanked the parents for their cooperation on the matter and assured that by next Friday, all the mobile classrooms will have been assembled.