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PUPILS LEARN IN TENTS

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MBABANE – Pupils from four schools in the country are currently learning under trees and temporary structures.


This is as a result of the lack of classrooms, which are supposed to be constructed through the Ministry of Education and Training.
With the winter season approaching, parents and teachers alike from the four schools, are wondering how the pupils will survive the winter chill while taking lessons either from inside the tents or from under trees.


So serious is the situation, that ‘Good Samaritans’ have donated tents for the pupils to take lessons in with the hope that government would come to the party.


Makeshift


A tent became the makeshift classroom for Grade II pupils at Bhadlane Primary School, while the school awaits approval from Micro Projects to construct classrooms.


This is happening in the backdrop of the ministry spending E40 million on external examinations only, last year.
The tent was donated by Baphalali Eswatini Red Cross Society and shelters a significant number of pupils.


According to a parent who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity, they were distressed over the condition their children learnt under. She stated that the school had a limited number of classrooms before the humanitarian organisation donated the tent. Meanwhile, the parent mentioned that the school had applied for funding from Micro Projects, but they were unsuccessful for the past three years.


Worried


“We are worried about the setup our children are currently learning in, it is not conducive for any learner. This is an indication of lack of development in the area and this will affect their performance,” said another parent.


She further specified that as parents, they had tried to communicate that they needed to contribute towards the construction of a classroom which could be used by the Grade II pupils, but this was futile since other parents could not afford to.


Another parent mentioned that during hot days, her child complained that the tents were very hot and this made it uncomfortable and learning was disturbed.
She added that on rainy days, the tents were flooded and lessons were disturbed further. She mentioned that pupils ended up not having lessons during rainy days.


“Due to the basic need for education, we cannot do anything about this, but continue to send our children to school,” the parent said.
The parents stated that this is the closest school which they could send their children to.
Some children travel approximately eight kilometres to the school.


Israel Fakudze, the Head teacher of the school, declined to comment. He, however, asked how the matter had reached the media and wondered if the source of the story was politically motivated.


Fakudze pointed out that the school had engaged the Ministry of Education and Training regarding the building of the Grade II classroom. He said the ministry had promised to assist the school and stated that he was hopeful that it would aid the school once finances were available.


Responding to the question of why Bhadlane Primary was approved without any funds for building, Lubombo Regional Education Officer (REO) Musa Mthupha said he had not anticipated that there would be financial challenges during the construction phase of the classroom.


Inadequate


The Lubombo REO further stressed that due to the inadequate infrastructure at the school, it was decided upon to make an improvisation of the tent which was donated by Red Cross. He said when the financial challenges improved, Micro Projects would be ready to assist the school. He said there was a building programme in place, which did not see the light of day due to the country’s economic turndown.


Similarly, parents of a school in the same region expressed their grief over Grade III pupils who were learning under trees.
“Our children are taught in the scorching heat and now that winter is approaching, they will be exposed to the cold,” she said.


The parent pointed out that this was because they were overcrowded in the classrooms. As a result, she (parent) specified that teachers grouped them into three streams, which they alternated and shared equally by the pupils on different days.
She added that it was difficult for the school to get help because it was remotely situated and people were not familiar with it.  


Meanwhile, the head teacher of the school refused to comment. He said he did not wish to be quoted, as the matter was currently being discussed by potential funders who were not under the ministry.

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