A visit to Dihlopaneng Primary School

January 11 this year, a delegation from Numsa’s Hlanganani region paid a visit to Dihlopaneng Primary School in Limpopo to see the terrible conditions in which learning and teaching take place there.

The delegation comprised the regional secretary, Jerry Morulane; the regional chairperson of the Numsa Youth Forum, Komane Mawela; the youth forum’s regional coordinator in Hlanganani, Jan Xhali; the local secretary of the Great North, Thulare Bopape; and the Numsa secretary at Eskom, Anna Makgopa.

The delegation arrived at the school just after 1pm and was warmly welcomed by the principal, Mr Mothapo and the head of department, Ms Molepo, who guided us through the school.

Dihlopaneng is a section 21 school, situated in the rural outskirts of Polokwane, in a village called Dihlopaneng gaMolepo. It has been educating the local people since 1963.

It has 10 teachers and a principal, making a total staff complement of 11, and 330 learners. They have to make use of three blocks, two of which were built in 1963 by the Dihlopaneng community. One of them was hit by storm in 2010 and has no roof. The other block was built by the apartheid government in 1973, and this is in poor condition as well.

All the blocks have no ceilings.

The school caters for eight classes. Grades R and 2 are separated by curtains, which makes it difficult for the teachers to teach both classes simultaneously.

The grade R classroom is also used to store food. The chalkboards in the other classrooms are falling down and the teachers have to use pieces of wood and tables to support them.

The built-in cupboards in the classrooms either have damaged doors or no doors at all.

Most of the windows are broken, which is a serious problem for learners during bad weather.

There is no staff room, only a small office improvised from the roofless block for the principal to run the school and do administrative work.

A shack is used as a kitchen to cook for the learners, while the toilets for male and female pupils are built over the same pit.

There is a serious shortage of desks, chairs and tables for learners and staff. Some learners sit in groups on the few available desks and chairs, while others use a home-made bench as a table which accommodates a pair of learners.

A fridge is needed to store food.
The school has two photocopying machines, which are in good condition.
But it has no power lines to connect the phones and the fax machine; staff relies on a webmail fax2email application, which is accessed on the only computer – the principal’s laptop.

The delegation established that proper classrooms, preferably four of them, are the school’s main priorities. It also needs offices, tables and chairs.

Compiled by Komane Mawela.