By Yaseen Kippie
Al Azhar Primary School will move from Lotus River to Mitchell’s Plain in the new academic year, a move that has upset some parents. The school will be relocated to a new complex setup by al-Khair Foundation on the corner of Jakes Gerwel and Highlands Drives, close to the Westgate Mall.
Some parents are concerned with the late notification of the move, communicated at a meeting on the 14th of September. One parent, who asked to remain anonymous, says that if they had been consulted earlier about potentially moving the school, all suggestions would have been taken into account.
The rise of protests at the Siqalo informal settlement also offers a risk to the security of the school, according to a parent.
Chairperson of Al-Azhar management, Shaykh Riad Fataar, says the high level of gangsterism and gang violence in Lotus River is the main reason behind the move.
“There have been many issues that have come, especially the gangsterism and shooting, which was worrying. The teachers and student have had to lay on the ground. One of the teachers was shot in the shoulder,” he explained.
The R25 million project will usher in massive infrastructural improvements and security upgrades to the new school.
“The storm we experienced a couple of months ago highlighted the mould in buildings, and the need for improvements. We will also have a concrete border hall surrounding the new school, and security guards will protect the learners.”
Shaykh Fataar also noted that protests are not confined to Mitchells Plain, nor is it a daily occurrence.
Travelling to and from the new school will be a challenge to parents living closer to Lotus River. Fataar says that although it is an inconvenience, most Mitchell’s Plain based parents are now far better off than travelling to Lotus River. As a result, there have also been an influx of new registrations.
Parents who want their children to move to a different school have been assured that they will be helped by the Western Cape Education Department, according to Fataar. The parents are to give their preference of school to the principal of Al-Azhar primary in a written letter, and students will subsequently be moved to another school. The waiting list will be seceded.
Shaykh Fataar says that the Muslim community should not prevent the move, because it represents Islamic based education progressing to a new level. As opposed to the distance to walk to the Masjid in Lotus River, a masjid is on the premises in Mitchells Plain.
“The City of Cape Town is not breathing down our necks. This is a great move, and we must not try to prevent it from taking place.”
A meeting with concerned parents will be scheduled, according to Fataar. VOC