Updated 19 January 2016

Former pupil comes home to save dangerously dilapidated school

A web developer now based in Johannesburg started a campaign to save the school she once attended, following reports that learners feared they would be crushed by falling roofs.

Johannesburg web developer Mulalo Simeti grew up in rural Limpopo, but when she heard reports that her local primary school was collapsing, she headed home to get to work.

In October, a Health-e News report that was published on Health24 indicated that about 300 learners at Limpopo's Bale Primary School feared they would be crushed by falling roofs after they were forced to attend classes in just two rooms due to crumbling infrastructure.

Read: More than 1000 learners, teachers share two toilets

While concerns about the school's safety prompted some parents to remove children from the school in early 2015, many were unable to leave the school, which is the only primary school in the area.

Located about 100 km east from Musina, the school also lacks proper toilets leaving learners to go into the nearby bush to relieve themselves.

Limpopo Department of Education Spokesperson Dr Naledzani Rasila confirmed the department was aware of the school's predicament but said budget to address the issues would only be made available in April 2016.

Bale Primary School toilets: The school received six new toilets (pictured below) to replace these crumbling pit latrines that forced learners to use the nearby bush to relieve themselves.

Picture courtesy of Governing School Body member Tshamanavhela Rasilavhi.

But on Wednesday, pupils arriving for the first day of class were welcomed by four new classrooms and six new toilets after former pupil  Mulalo Simeti began a campaign to save the school following Health24/ Health-e News reports.

Originally from Niani village, about 100 km east of Musina, Simeti now lives in Johannesburg and is a successful website developer.

"As a former pupil and one of the very first children to attend primary education at the Bale Primary School, I felt it to be only fair that I give back to my home village," said Simeti when she started her campaign to save the school in November.

"As a successful individual in the community, I have to give back so that other people can also be successful one day," she said. "I am proud of myself because I gave back to my community."

At the school, learners are thrilled.

"It is good and nice to have new toilets," said nine-year-old Gundo Mulovhedzi. "We are no longer afraid for our lives when we go to the toilets because the newly built toilets are in good condition."

Governing School Body member Tshamanavhela Rasilavhi called the new classrooms and toilets "a dream come true."

"We will no longer fear for the lives of our kids when they go to school," said Rasilavhi, who added that despite there still being a need for more classrooms to house the Grade 1 through 7 learners, it was a start.

Collapsed roof: Bale Primary houses learners from grade one through to grade seven who were being taught in just two classrooms after the roofs of other rooms collapsed. Four new classrooms (pictured below) were built.

Picture courtesy of Governing School Body member Tshamanavhela Rasilavhi.

Simeti's campaign prompted queries from South Africans across the country about how they could help. She said she feels that successful South Africans owe it to their communities to give back. 

"Other successful people must also give back and play a developmental role in their communities," she added. "We are the ones who hold the keys that can open doors for the coming generations". – Health-e News.

Also read:

'Every time I need the toilet, I have to crawl to the nearby bushes'

Hundreds of school children suffer from food poisoning

Sanitation crisis in Tembisa schools


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