Kwa-Zulu Natal Flood-248 schools damaged, as online learning could be re-introduced
Kwa-Zulu Natal has been left devastated by what has been called one of South Africa’s worst natural disasters.
Visiting the province on Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa described the KZN floods as a “catastrophe” and a “calamity”.
A forecaster at the national weather service, Tawana Dipuo, told AFP that some parts of Kwa-Zulu Natal received more than 450 millimetres of rain in 48 hours, amounting to nearly half of Durban’s annual rainfall of 1,009 mm.
The storm, which has severely damaged roads, houses, schools and infrastructure in the province comes mere months after the deadly riots in July 2021 which claimed the lives of more than 350 people and caused significant damage to the economy as well as infrastructure.
Speaking to 702 on Thursday morning, KwaZulu-Natal Education Department Spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said 248 schools have been damaged by the KZN floods.
He said they haven’t been able to assess the exact damages to schools but have been relying on information received by principals of the affected schools, adding that the damage varies from classrooms and admin blocks being flooded to offices being flooded.
“You can’t have teaching and learning taking place in these conditions, he said.
Mahlambi said proper assessments of damages to schools in the province couldn’t be carried out due to collapsed roads and mudslides, adding that the assessments will start on Tuesday when schools re-open and most of the roads have been cleared and re-opened.
“We issued a circular asking parents to keep their children at home and to ask principals and government bodies to exercise very serious caution, and use their own discretion to determine whether it is safe for teachers to go to schools,” he said.
When asked what the Kwa-Zulu Natal Education department is doing to support those learners who are now once again at home because they can’t attend classes, Mahlambi said the MEC has called an emergency meeting with senior management which will take place on Thursday morning.
He said they will be tapping on experiences learned from Covid-19, when schools also saw disruptions in class attendance, adding some schools in the province might go back to rotational time tabling and online learning.
Mahlambi added that the Kwa-Zulu Natal Education Department will be receiving relief from their National counterparts to fix schools that have been damaged, saying they just received relief for schools that were damaged by heavy rainfall two years ago.
However, that being said, a further 188 schools, which were left damaged by storms two years ago, now needs to be added to the recent tally, bringing the amount of damaged schools to 436 that will need to be fixed.
As of Wednesday night, 18 pupils and one teacher have already been killed due to flooding, with the latest reports indicating that a total of 306 people have lost their lives as a result of the heavy rains.