The Steenberg community are elated that Harmony Primary School will finally be completely reconstructed into a modern building.
The 60-year old school is dilapidated and falling apart and for years staff, parents and the community have pleaded for the school to be upgraded or rebuilt.
Their pleas have finally been heard and the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has set aside R75 million rand, the average cost of replacing an existing primary school, to completely rebuild Harmony Primary School.
Construction is due to start at the end of April and some of the 780 pupils have been moved into temporary classrooms. The construction will take about 18 months to complete and the school will then be able to accommodate up to 1 000 pupils.
Eunice Manasse, who has been the principal for a year, said it has been long overdue.
She started her practice teaching at the school in 1983.
Ms Manasse said the processes and applications were done many years ago by her predecessors and staff but said she’s happy she’s there to witness it.
“The school is dilapidated so the new school will bring a whole new mindset and morale to the children and a lot of positivity. The teachers are also extremely excited and can’t wait for the building to be completed so that we can move in.”
Vice-principalVaughn Adriaanse said the upgrade of the school has been a long time coming.
“Four years ago we got very excited when it was announced that we were going to get a new school and thought construction was going to start soon after that but it wasn’t so. Now we are at the point where building is going to start, finally.
“Colleagues have come and gone and they were a part of the process so we thank them for their input as well,” said Mr Adriaanse.
Shariefa Salie, who lives opposite the school, said the new building would not only upgrade the school but also the community.
“We need this and the pupils and staff deserve it because the school looked like it was falling apart. We are proud of Harmony Primary School but now we can also brag that we have a new school and the fact that people from the community will be able to help build the school and get employment is great,” said Ms Salie.
Bronagh Hammond, the department’s head of communication, said the “plankie” schools are built of in-
appropriate materials and are therefore being replaced
with brick-and-mortar structures.
Other schools in the district listed as due for upgrades soon include Crestway High in Steenberg, which is currently under construction, Grassy Park High School, Pelican Park High School and Perivale Primary School in Lotus River. Since 2012, the department has replaced 65 “plankie” schools in the province.
Ms Hammond said the WCED prioritises schools for replacement in terms of needs based on the state of the existing structure. “However, we cannot do all of them in one go. It is a backlog that we are determined to decrease. Unfortunately, we do not have the funds, or the manpower, to do it at
the rate that some people demand. We are, however, prioritising it.”
The department also spends over R500 million on maintenance each year, and R600 million for new schools.
A steering committing has now been established and a community liaison officer (CLO) will be appointed to help employ people from the community to work on the project.