THE R8-million Gonubie High School, opened with huge fanfare just five years ago, will have to close its doors at the end of the month if Bhisho fails to rescue it.
The school, which has an enrolment of more than 600 pupils, is in danger of becoming a white elephant if the state does not step in and pay salaries for the teachers hired into jobs supposed to be paid by the state.
It is the only high school in the upmarket suburb .
In the past, children who were lucky enough to be schooled in East London had to travel close to 15km from their homes.
The school has laboratories, resource centres, cricket pitches, tennis courts, soccer and rugby fields.
Last month, provincial education acting superintendent-general Mthunywa Ngonzo announced plans to refund schools for hiring teachers for jobs meant to be paid by the state in compliance with a court order made last year.
Close to 10 schools in Sterkspruit were among those affected.
Speaking to the Saturday Dispatch this week, the school’s governing body chairman Glendon Brown and his deputy Paula Botya, vented their frustrations over the lack of support from the department.
“Throughout the years we’ve been telling the department about our spending on something that they should be providing themselves. Now, we are in a disastrous situation. We are operating like a household living hand to mouth. We can no longer cope,” said Brown.
The school started with a full complement of seven teachers, which was enough for its Grade 8 class.
But when it started phasing in other grades and this year took in, for the first time, a matric class of more than 50 pupils, permanent teachers were not provided by the department.
Out of a total of 21 teachers at the school, only seven are permanently employed by the department, while 11 are occupying jobs paid for by parents.
The remaining three are among the 1772 temps who were retained by the department when contracts of more 4000 temps were terminated at the end of last year.
However their salaries have yet to be paid. The trio has also been paid by parents throughout the years and again would have their contracts terminated again by the end of March.
According to the SGB, the school:
- Spent a whopping R5-million on paying salaries;
- The department allocated R60 000 once, for 30% of pupils exempted from paying the R900 annual school fee; and
- Inherited thousands of rands of municipal debt for rates and services from the department’s account before it was changed from Section 20 to 21 status.
Botya said parents have asked East London education district officials during a meeting recently to intervene. “We’ve also asked them not to bring other teachers as we have qualified staff already in posts that are needed as per our staff establishment. We don’t need new teachers, but have been asking them to absorb the ones we have because they are doing an exceptional job.”
She said the school has also been turned into a “dumping site” by the department as it annually sent them children who were desperate for placement at schools without providing support.
School principal Grethe Botha declined to comment. — email@example.com