The life of five-year-old Busisiwe Madidiza has changed significantly since the opening of the new R105 million state-of-the-art Menzi Primary School in Tsakane, Ekurhuleni.
According to her mother, Nokuthula (35), her daughter’s numerical and communication skills have improved dramatically since she enrolled at the brand new school last year.
The school, which is a modern information-technology-based facility, is built right in the middle of extreme poverty, with dirt roads and shacks built from corrugated iron sheet.
“My daughter now can read and write well just like those in [former] Model C schools in the suburbs, thanks to this new school in our township,” Nokuthula said on Wednesday during the official opening of the school by Gauteng Premier David Makhura, MEC of Education Panyaza Lesufi and MEC of Infrastructure and Development Jacob Mamabolo.
“I am not sure where she will land in future but the greatness that already lies within her is already showing in a profound way.”
Menzi Primary School caters for 1 088 learners from Grade R to Grade 7. It has 33 smart classrooms, two science laboratories, a library, IT control rooms, a nutrition centre, a dining hall, 5 courtyards, sports facilities and a 1 088 capacity school hall.
The building of the school is in line with Gauteng’s modernisation programme to create smart classrooms.
The construction of Menzi Primary School began in 2015 but faced many challenges along the way including strikes and work stoppages by local sub-contractors as they demanded more work and that more locals be employed on the site.
Despite these numerous challenges, the project was successfully executed and a sectional handover was done during the first week of December 2017 – this is according to the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure and Development.
During the opening, Lesufi appealed to members of the local community in Tsakane to protect the multi-million rand state-of-the-art school from vandalism and theft from local criminals.
“All our schools in Duduza and Tsakane were burgled and broken into during the school holidays this past December. I am appealing to community leaders to protect the school from theft and criminals.
“The department of education invested more than R105 million into the construction of this beautiful school and all we want is to see our children go to school without any hindrance,” Lesufi said.
He added the newly built school was the first in Tsakane to have smart classrooms.
“This is the first primary school in this community where our children will never smell chalk; will not be asked to go and clean a duster and will not know what is a chalkboard,” said Lesufi.
Lesufi told parents and community leaders present that the local children from the nearby townships now have an opportunity to change their lives for the better with the opening of the school.
“The children of this community are the first generation that will not queue for a RDP house but will queue for a graduation ceremony,” said Lesufi.
“We must unleash these children to be part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). These children here today will not have somebody to drive to Eastgate Mall. A driverless car will drive them there. That is why in the history of KwaThema, Duduza and Tsakane, our children will never be exposed to a blackboard as we know it.
“We provide classroom devices in the form of interactive boards. We say, One Learner, One Tablet. This school is connected to data and the learners have access to information and general knowledge just like any learner in any school in the suburbs,” said Lesufi.
Makhura congratulated his Lesufi for making it possible for the province to claim the number one spot at 87.9%.
“Education is a number one priority in Gauteng and we are happy for being declared number one. We are number one not because of the schools in the suburbs but because schools in the townships have improved,” said Makhura.
“This school does not belong to the Premier or the MEC Lesufi. It belongs to the community for the benefit of the children so we need to make sure that our children are safe and study in a conducive environment.”
Community leader Buti Cindi (62), told Inside Education that the ward committee will work with the community to ensure that the school is protected and not burned during service delivery protests as is the norm in South Africa.
“We are going to convene a meeting to educate to our people that we must protect this school. If we have a service delivery protest, let us resort to other forms of protests rather than burn a school and destroy this much needed infrastructure,” said Cindi.
Acting Ekurhuleni Executive Mayor Lesiba Mpya promised to build better roads connecting to the school after several people complained about the condition of the roads in the area and riding in the gravel roads with stones, mud and sand.
The school was built on dolomite ground.
“We noted the conditions of the roads. They are definitely not in good shape. But we promise that we are going to include the construction of the roads in our budget for the 2019 financial year,” said Mpya.