OVERYSSEL — Mpepule Primary School in the Overyssel area, about 60 km from Lephalale, was closed down by order of the Department of Education in Limpopo. Mpepule has been in the news lately after an article was published in the Sowetan on March 21 this year. Parents were upset about the fact that two learners were bitten by a snake while sleeping. The bomb exploded.
The Sowetan described the school as a “Horror School” in the edition of Monday 4 April.
On Monday night Mogol Post found the teachers of the school on the school premises, claiming that they don’t know what is going to happen to them. Officials from the department went on a “night drive” through the Overyssel area to find 13 children of farm workers in the area in order to transport them to Klein Rustenburg where there are boarding facilities. The distance between Mpepule and Klein Rustenburg is 140 km.
The argument is that the origin of the school was to accommodate the children from farm workers in the area and it was never meant to be a school for children from Shongoane and surroundings, because there are schools closer to home there.
According to Dr. Naledzani Rasila, spokesperson of the Department of Education in Limpopo, they were in the process of closing the school anyway. “There were too many children for the school to handle and the initial purpose of the school, being a rural school for the children of nearby farm workers, was not applicable for many years now.”
He assured Mogol Post that the children will be deployed in different schools in surrounding areas and they will look after the principal of the school, Andries Tswane, as well as the rest of the staff.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Government stated that they welcome the decision by the Limpopo Department of Education to close Mpepule Primary.
The decision to close the school was reached after it was discovered that the teachers and pupils at the school had been enduring a life of hardship, sleeping in classrooms as they had no scholar transport to take them home after school.
Acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams, said; “the decision by the provincial department portrayed that government was living up to its obligation to protect the rights of children by providing them with an environment that is conducive for learning.”
“Government will ensure that the National Department of Basic Education will assist the provincial department with the necessary technical support in ensuring that the needs of all the learners are prioritized. We will ensure that the learners and teachers that have been transferred to other schools will be provided with the necessary support to ensure their safety and comfort in order for them to focus on learning and teaching,” said Williams.
Parents of the affected pupils are urged to work with the department in ensuring that all pupils are admitted in schools around the Shongoane area. All parents and guardians have a duty to make certain that their children receive a suitable full-time education. Government remains committed to maintaining the safety of children in a learning environment.
Arriving at the school on Tuesday afternoon, the Mogol Post was met by chaos. Furious parents said to the Mogol Post that the department of Education never consulted with them regarding whether they were satisfied with the conditions at the school or not. They said they took their children to Mpepule because their academic performances increased significantly compared to other schools – like some in Shongoane.
Some of the learners were packing their belongings, looking for their books, trying to make sense of what was going on.
Others blocked the gate and packed stones in the road so that officials from the Department of Education could not get out. Children were hanging on the gates while upset parents were talking to each other and trying to sort the problem out.
Many parents said to the Mogol Post that they were going to take their children home because they are not going to allow their children to attend other schools. “At Mpepule we were confident that our children are being looked after”, they say.
Parents told the Mogol Post on Tuesday night that they will not accept the department’s decision until they receive official, written confirmation about the closure of the school.
At the time of going to press, the land owner, who supplies most of the schools electricity and has done for years, has never been consulted or notified concerning the decisions made regarding the school. The children have also been recipients of a fair amount of love and care and food from the surrounding community and international hunters who visited the area.