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Principal Zamandulo’s makeshift school finally shut down

By Everson Luhanga

One classroom, one teacher, one syllabus, and 21 children of different ages.

This was a makeshift school that was running in Tembisa’s Phomolong section. Its 21 pupils were between the ages of six and 12. They brought their own packed lunch with them and attended classes from morning to the afternoon.

The children are said to be from Grade R to Grade six, all paying a flat fee of R450 per month.

Scrolla.Africa visited the school and spoke to the schoolteacher who is also a self-appointed school principal, Zamandulo Rejoice Nxumalo.

Entering the so-called classroom, children are grouped according to their ages and are divided by plastic chairs to differentiate the classes they attend.

They all started the day at 8am and knocked off at 1pm.

“I started the school in 2020 when I realised that many children were not active during Covid-19,” Principal Zamandulo said.

“I took them to a shelter which was used as a church because by then, churches were not allowed gatherings.”

Zamandulo said she started with four children but steadily more children turned up, and the class grew and grew until there were 21 youngsters turning up at the doorstep every morning.

Then as the country began to leave the lockdown – even more kids started to arrive!

“After people started going to work, more parents brought their children because some had to go to work.”

She said some of the children were learners who couldn’t find places at government schools and their parents couldn’t pay for expensive private schools.

But on Tuesday 17 January, Nxumalo and her children had unexpected visitors at the school from Ekurhuleni Safety Ambassadors. They had been tipped off about the school, which was totally unregistered and off the radar of any arm of the government.

“The ambassadors required to know from me how it happens that I run a bogus school unauthorised in the community. They asked me to produce any document that permits me to run the school which I failed [to do] because I don’t have one.

“They asked me to cease operations pending an inspection by the Gauteng Department of Education,” she said.

Many people in the community had not heard of the school until the inspection, and were angry that the children were getting an improper education.

Nxumalo said a day after the Ekurhuleni Safety Ambassadors left, a group of residents flocked to the school premises, changed the locks and kicked the principal out. That was the end of her operation on Sunday.

Pictured above: Children receive a lesson at Principal Zamadulo’s makeshift school