Tremendous strides have been taken in the construction of the new Silikamva High School building despite challenges with underground water and delays caused by this year’s housing protests.
Classrooms, the new administrative building and the large hall are taking shape, and it is envisaged the new school will open its doors in the middle of next year.
Once completed, the school will be able to house a thousand pupils as well as serve the local Imizamo Yethu community.
The tender price for the new building on the 7-hectare property was R69.4 million.
Since the launch of the Silikamva High in 2013, pupils have been taught in container and mobile classrooms. In March last year, City council gave the go-ahead for the rezoning of an erf alongside the existing school abutting Imizamo Yethu on its northern boundary and Penzance Estate to the south.
A tender was put out by the Western Cape Education Department and the contract was awarded to Haw & Inglis Civil Engineering, which began construction at the beginning of the year.
Between 24 and 28 classrooms will serve teachers and pupils, while the property will also include a multi-media centre, two science laboratories and a library.
For school principal Angus Duffett, the new building will not only enable Silikamva High to increase pupil numbers from the current 630 to 1 000, but it will also act as a community centre for Imizamo Yethu residents.
“We will have the chance to be a high school during the day and a community centre at night where, for example, adult education classes can be held. Imizamo Yethu is in desperate need of such a facility,” he said.
Given the gradient of the terrain as well as the size of the area, there have been alterations to the original design plan, which now sees two storeys on the one and three storeys on the other side of the building.
With 370 more pupils expected to attend the school, new teachers will be recruited.
“The good thing is that we have time to prepare for our 2019 intake. Our aim is to be an exceptional school, one that is on a par with the best in the city,” Mr Duffett said.
The building will include a large general purpose physcial education slab and netball court, while the land on which the container classrooms stand will be converted into a sports field.
A library and kitchen are also provided for.
The administration block at the front of the school will be among the first structures completed, and will house the staff room, offices, book room and computer servers.
“We are hoping to get Chrome books or laptops for our new computer centre and create a mobile, flexible space,” Mr Duffett said.
Access roads to the new building have also been carefully planned. Pupils will enter at the back of the property through a specially-designed section, while vehicle access and the parking area will remain in their current positions on the Penzance side of the property.
Mr Duffett said there will be prominent security all over the schoolDuring this week’s site visit by the Sentinel, Haw & Inglis safety officer Charlene Pretorius said the company had experienced challenges with underground water during the construction process. This was exacerbated by rain, causing water levels to rise.
Construction was also halted during last month’s housing protests. However, the company was on course to complete the building by mid-2018.
“We’ve been working six days a week. Currently our workforce numbers 140 people, of which 58 are from the local community. This number is expected to increase,” she said.
Provincial education department spokeswoman Jessica Shelver said the department had invested heavily in school infrastructure to “improve the quality of our schools’ teaching and learning spaces as well as to meet the demands for schooling in the province”. “We are pleased that we are able to deliver a school that the community can be proud of, and that its learners can thrive in,” she said.