and Michelle Jones
MORE than 100 people, including children, blockaded Baden Powell Drive in Macassar demanding the Western Cape Education Department build mobile classrooms for primary school pupils.
Community leaders and parents in the Zwelitsha and Nkanini areas prevented a team of department officials from leaving Siphamandla Secondary in Khayelitsha last week.
They claimed the department had undertaken last year to erect mobile classrooms and that since the start of the school year on Wednesday about 470 children had been left without a school to attend.
Education MEC Donald Grant’s spokeswoman, Bronagh Casey, rejected the claim that the department had promised to build a new school there.
Yesterday traffic was diverted as the group, holding posters and chanting, marched through the streets demanding the department provide a school.
One of the parents, Sisa Mpiti, 46, said both of his children, aged eight and six, were still at home because there was no space at nearby schools.
“We need another school in this community because all the other schools are full. I don’t have money to pay for transport to send my children to a school further away.”
Mpiti feared that his children were missing out on school time.
ANC councillor Andile Lili said the Western Cape government would give them “no choice but to make the province ungovernable” if their requests weren’t met.
Lili was also awaiting placement for his child.
“After failed attempts, we want everyone to see the challenges we face. We will not stop until our children are attending class, they can’t sit at home,” he said.
Police spokesman Andre Traut said officers monitored the area and reopened the road after protesters dispersed.
Casey said the department had planned to build a new primary school there by 2016.
“The department has yet to identify a site for this school, but once identified and secured, we can then start planning for a new primary school in the area.”
She said the department was determined to place all pupils in the area at schools as soon as possible.
A list had been handed to the department with the names of more than 400 pupils, but it had been found that only 130 pupils needed places as some were already enrolled or not of school going age.
Casey said officials would meet principals of schools in the surrounding area tomorrow to determine the number of spaces available.
Meanwhile, protesting teachers at a Crossroads school will have to explain why misconduct charges should not be brought against them.
This after a group of teachers at Dr Nelson Mandela High refused to begin teaching last week in protest at the return of principal Linda Mnotoza.
Among other accusations, they claimed he had mismanaged funds.
Grant said yesterday that the teachers’ actions had been “unacceptable”. He said the accusations against Mnotoza were investigated by the department last year.
“The officials found that the allegations were without foundation. The principal has been cleared and was never charged. Therefore, he has every right to return to the school.”
Grant said teachers’ actions in leaving their classrooms “are selfish and cannot be condoned. The department is issuing these educators with letters requiring them to provide reasons why misconduct charges should not be levelled against them.”