It is hard to believe this is a school due to its dilapidated state.
But this is Leratong Primary School of Matheneng village in Mafeteng where 150 students are acquiring knowledge despite the dire condition of the mud, stone and corrugated iron facility.
In rainy weather, teachers seek shelter under their umbrellas despite being inside a building and continue with lessons while students also do the same and also put basins and buckets inside the classrooms to stop the water from spreading inside, as it leaks from the rooftop.
On windy days, lessons have to stop as teachers and students fear the buildings could collapse on them. School Principal Malebohang Nthama even had to donate corrugated iron from her house for a shack to be built and provide more room for classes.
She narrated the plight of her students and teachers on Friday as she received goods worth M25 000 from AON Insurance Company and Pep Stores who had responded to a cry for assistance from the institution.
The goods were for 75 of the school’s most vulnerable students and the donation was part of the companies’ corporate social responsibility programmes. The donation included blankets, school shoes and socks, rain-jackets, exercise books and pencils.
Ms Nthama told the Sunday Express that the school only has four teachers who take care of Classes One to Seven. The teachers, she added, each take two classes, while she only teaches one class because of administrative duties.
Ms Nthama said the condition of their school puts them under pressure because they are always behind on the syllabus. Thy have to teach Class Seven pupils the syllabus for classes five and six in addition to their own curriculum to ensure they pass their exams, she said.
“I know if we don’t work like this, these students can fail. That’s why despite the difficulties we face, we are still managing a 100 percent pass-rate because we put in a lot of hard work when we have time to make-up for the days we would have missed classes,” Ms Nthama said.
She added poverty exacerbates the situation at the school.
“Most of our children here are orphans while some are so vulnerable we provide for them from our own pockets,” she said.
Leratong is a Zion Church school established by the late Bishop Sebolai Sebonyane of the New Church of God in 1988.
“The school was constructed in 1987 and in 1988, it was registered with the Ministry of Education and Training,” Ms Nthama said.
“Initially, classes were held in the church building while the congregation was constructing classrooms that you see there because the law also didn’t allow for classes to be near the church or in the church building,” Ms Nthama said.
“This school is 28 years old but we don’t have decent buildings to this day while other church schools have buildings constructed for them by the government. We are wondering what’s taking the government so long to attend to our issue because we are suffering!”
“Leratong, like other church schools, deserves to be considered by the government but we still hope one day, we will be remembered.
“We have approached the Mafeteng business community who have agreed to help us. In fact, the process of constructing three classrooms has started as the foundation is complete.”
In his speech at the handover ceremony, AON Employee Benefits and Business Development Manager, Teboho Makoetlane said: “In our calendar, we have selected three days which are named Empower Results-colleagues, Empower Results-customers and Empower Results- communities and we were supposed to have celebrated this day last week but due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to move it to today.
“When we celebrate our Empower Results- communities, we first have to identify a vulnerable community and then give back considering the kind of need we saw when we engaged that community. This year, when the day approached, I decided to call a social worker in Mafeteng to help us identify a vulnerable community in the district. That’s when she told us about the situation at this school.
“Initially, we had agreed with the Pep Stores general manager to choose between Leribe and Mafeteng but after learning of the situation here, that it was really bad, we decided to come.
“Because we believe a comfortable and warm child learns well than the one who lacks warmth, we decided to give them these goodies you see here today.”
On his part, Pep Stores General Manager Theuns Du Preez said the plight of the students had driven them to lend a helping hand.
“I was approached by Teboho from AON, who told me that 70 Leratong Primary School students were in dire need. That is why we are here today to give them these goodies,” Mr Du Preez said.
“We thought we should come here to give you a small something to bring a difference to your lives. Always remember that it’s small things in life that make the most difference. I ask you to be happy and accept these gifts,” Mr Du Preez said.
On behalf of the school, Ms Nthama said she was short of words to thank Pep Stores and AON Insurance for their kind gesture.
“I’m really short for words to describe the happiness I feel today as I see the smiles you brought to these children’s faces,” Ms Nthama said.
“Tonight, as these children and their parents sit over supper, their conversations are going to be about you throughout because of what you gave them today.
“I’m grateful for this gesture because it is going to bring great change to their lives. You brought us joy in these buildings which are similar to pigsties.”