The protesting residents in the area want the Municipal Demarcation Board to reverse its decision to incorporate Vuwani into a new municipality.
The department on Wednesday said 16 schools in Vurhonga 2 circuit have been torched and teaching and learning has since been brought to a standstill, as the protests spiralled out of control targeting school property in the area.
“A number of schools in villages such as Majozi, Kurhuleni, Mashau, Masia, among others, lost valuable property as administration blocks, classrooms, libraries, nutrition centres and school furniture were reduced to ashes,” said the department.
The department said it will as soon as the situation calms down, send a team to assess the extent of the damage so as to device speedy means to ensure that teaching and learning resumes.
“It is a total shut down in the area and the department is concerned about the time lost by learners as a result of this unfortunate situation.
“Community members are in the meantime, urged to work with police and the department with regard to information that will lead to the arrest of perpetrators of these barbaric acts.
“We call on the community leaders and the community members to exercise restraint by ensuring they protest peacefully and not vandalize school property,” said the department.
The department said it is unacceptable and at the same time regrettable that schools are caught in the crossfire and education is used as a bargaining tool every time communities protest for other services.
The department urged community members to think twice before embarking in such acts as the aftermath of such actions will have devastating effects on education, given the constraints that the department already faces.
The department said the gutting of property disrupts schooling, takes the department backwards and will simply add to the already massive backlog that the department faces and has been trying to address for years now.
The department said it still has to address school infrastructure that has been damaged by storms and cannot contend with man-made disasters.