Vandalised Chatsworth school to reopen its doors

A dilapidated classroom at the school.

A marauding gang of thugs involved in robberies, hijackings, prostitution and drugs have closed the doors to a pioneer Chatsworth school. Today only the shell remains in the vacant and derelict school building. But all is not doom and gloom thanks to a community-based organisation that is prepared to restore the school to its glory days.

The Abu-Darda Islamic Education Centre, which has been serving various South African communities since 2004, aims to repair and restore Pinewood Primary School and open a skills development centre.

Pinewood Primary School has become a haven for criminals and a cause of great concern in terms of safety and security.

The school closed down a few months ago partly due to several robberies and break-ins. The pupils have been moved to Seven Hills Primary School since then. The condition of the school right now is pitiful and unwelcoming.

Members of the Abu-Darda Islamic Education Centre’s intention is to become totally integrated into the community by providing skills development that would enable youth to train and become empowered to enter the employment sector. They rely on their donors to sustain their programmes and many of their sponsors have expressed great interest in the development of the project that empowers people to become prosperous.

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Principal of the organisation, Ayman Elsaid said, “We plan on providing an educational environment for the youth which will enable them to achieve their highest potential in secular studies.”

The organisation is known for creating free education and resources for pupils and they plan on providing this opportunity to the youngsters of Chatsworth and surrounding areas.

Cllr Ronnie Pillay, former councilor, Vinesh Sunker, assistant, Vinesh Ramdeen and principal of the Abu-Darda Islamic Education Centre, Ayman Elsaid.

The skills development programmes will run a project that will include a syllabus for mechanical technology where welding and metal work will be taught. They will cater for the hospitality industry where youth can learn about cooking and catering and also dress design. Some faculties will be taught by their staff and the rest will be outsourced to accredited service providers.

The organisation plans on also providing an opportunity for tertiary students to further studies in higher institutions by providing a library and Wi-Fi for easy access to information.

They are proposing a vegetable garden and community participation in it as they firmly believe that only active community participation will combat crime in Pinewood, however they will provide full time security that patrol the premises and ensure a safe environment.

The organisation’s leaders spoke to community groups, schools and businesses in the area and received permission to get on with their projects.

The 708 Action Group, Pinewood Street Committee, Seven Hills Community Forum, Cllr Devraj Ronnie Pillay and Cllr MS Nyawose from ward 79 have given the organisation their support to go ahead with their project. These members said they trust that many youth will benefit from the skills development centre.

The organisation and community urge the Department of Education and Public Works to consider their request favourably so that a partnership can be created to turn Pinewood Primary School into a beacon of education and training.

Nikita Chiniah

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