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South Africa: New Beginning for Eastern Cape School
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Friday, August 16, 2013
Country: South Africa
Created: Aug 16, 2013

Motshegka told SAnews in an interview that it was fitting that the new school in Mandela Park is delivered on the eve of Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday.
“I came here last year on 18 July for a sod turning ceremony and it is a very emotional moment for me to come back here today to hand over the school on the eve of Tata’s birthday,” said Motshekga.
“When I came here last year, I actually put my hands on the head and didn’t believe what I saw… It was a picture of desperate people who were trying to take whatever existed to educate their kids,” she said.
Locals say the old school was so bad that it prompted a local chief to call on teachers to close it down. But thanks to an intervention by steel company ArcelorMittal, which spent more than R4 million to build the school.
The new school consists of 21 classrooms, a computer lab fitted with 64 laptops, a library, an administration building with meeting rooms, offices of the principal and two vice principals, a media centre, a laboratory and a nutrition centre, among others.
Said Motshekga: “You could see that this was a community that was fighting hard educate its kids. They were crowded, dirty and there was just no space. That is why I’m saying, I’m very grateful that in just a year, all that has changed. This is a beautiful school. From where they were, this is a huge contrast.”
Local resident Mongezi Ngodla said the school was a “big birthday gift” for Mandela and the community.
“We see this as not only a gift to us, but this is for Tata. He is one of us here and it was painful for us to see a school that is named after him in his home town in that state. We are very happy and blessed.”
Ngodla was among the people who opted for the school to be shut down about a year ago.
“We are happy that decision was never taken, look at this now,” he said, pointing to the new school, which ArcelorMittal said had been built to “celebrate” the use of steel in construction.
“The professional team and contractors in the Eastern Cape were exposed to new technologies not normally found in domestic or school buildings,” said a brochure distributed to guests at the opening.
ArcelorMittal chief executive Nonkululeko Nyembezi later told reporters that the school was built as part of the company’s social responsibility programme.
“We want to be involved in solving problems that are plaguing South Africa today and for me there is no better way to do it than to invest in education,” said Nyembezi.
She said she hoped that the building would nourish the minds of all learners and assist the teachers to impart knowledge more effectively.
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