The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, visited various schools in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, to hand over refurbished school desks on 19 February 2021. The handover of school desks is part of the Ministerial Corporate Social Investment (CSI) Programme. Since the beginning of the programme in July 2020, Minister Lamola has thus far donated to schools in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape, Personal Protective Equipment including masks and sanitizer stands which were produced by inmates.
Nine schools in Bushbuckridge benefitted from this initiative by Minister Lamola and they received a total of 1 000 desks which have been refurbished by inmates. As part of DCS’s offender skills development, the refurbishment of school desks is a collaboration of Barberton and Boksburg Management Areas, whereby inmates produced school desks using some of the material supplied by the South African National Parks (SANParks). SANParks donated oak/wood material from alien trees which according to them consume excessive water in the parks.
The Minister, DCS senior officials and other invited guests commenced the day at two of the beneficiary schools, namely Hobo Secondary School and Bunny Khosa Secondary School to handover the school desks. During the handover, Minister Lamola assembled a desk as a way of encouraging learners to consider other fields of study such as carpentry, a skilled trade and craft in which the primary work performed is the cutting, shaping and installation of materials. “It is not ideal for all learners to pursue their studies at universities, some of you may have to consider hand work studies such as carpentry in Further Education and Training (FET) colleges to have successful careers,” said Minister Lamola. He further encouraged learners to work hard in their studies despite the socio-economic challenges they may be faced with, including poverty.
The school desks were received by Mpumalanga MEC for Education, Mr Bonakele Majuba, on behalf of the schools. He expressed his appreciation of this great initiative by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and the intervention made to contribute towards education. Mr Majuba indicated that the school desks arrived after the province was affected by a storm which left a number of schools encountering damages to school properties, including desks. He further advised learners to use the desks responsibly and work hard to achieve best results.
Minister Lamola says the DCS will continue utilizing offender labour to address some of the maintenance challenges on public infrastructure. “Inmates will through their labour, payback to society and we are pleased that they are positively contributing towards the education of learners and we will continue with this project in all our regions,” concluded Minister Lamola.