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Durban - Education MEC Senzo Mchunu told two schoolboys on Thursday that they had better quit smoking whoonga and dagga or they could forget about ever attending a public school in the province.
Mchunu read the riot act to the two pupils, aged 15 and 19, during a visit to a school in Mlazi on Thursday, and said regular blood tests would be done on the teenagers for six months and they would be expelled if traces of drugs were found.
Swelihle Secondary had refused to enrol the two pupils because of behavioural problems, and they had come to the school with their desperate parents on Thursday when the MEC intervened.
The teenagers had admitted to using the drugs.
Mchunu’s visit was part of a three-day programme which has involved officials and other MECs paying surprise visits to schools across the province to see how they were functioning at the start of the new school year.
Mchunu said the pupils, who have absconded three times during exams, must be given a final chance and allowed to enrol.
He said the department’s special needs education service, which deals with social ills, would work to get the pupils back on track with the help of school principal Dumisile Bulose.
“I am putting them under monitoring and they will be tested for drugs on a regular basis. Whether you smoke at night, if it is in your blood, we will be able to detect it. This is your last chance… If we find it in your blood, you will be expelled and you will never be enrolled at another school in KZN,” said Mchunu.
“You boys are still very young and you can still pass and contribute to the country. If the department, the school and your parents give up on you, you will be nothing. You are going nowhere because drugs are taking you two nowhere,” he told them.
He urged the school to provisionally accept the pupils on condition they agree to be helped to stop taking drugs.
“These provisional acceptance forms must be signed by the parents for the process of helping these pupils to begin,” said Mchunu.
Psychologists were expected to visit the school on Friday to counsel the pupils.
Mchunu was not pleased with the school’s matric pass rate of 51 percent.
“This is a fail. I am not insulting you, but it’s a fact,” he told the principal.
Turning to the school’s new Grade 12 pupils, he said: “You must study hard because there is no miracle in matric that will help you pass. Forget about whoonga.”
At Lindelani Senior Primary, also in Mlazi, Mchunu was not satisfied with the maintenance of the school.
“We are not talking about costly maintenance, we are talking about just managing the beauty and environment of schools… we are not doing well.”
He complained about lack of responsibility from parents when it came to pupils dropping out of schools.
“The highest drop-outs of children of school-going age happens in Grade 9, 10 and 11… those are the exit points.
“If a child drops out, they are going nowhere, but are swelling the number of children who should be in school but are not.”
On January 25 and 26, the department plans to hold a conference that will tackle social ills affecting education, including drug abuse and teenage pregnancies.
Reporting on the progress of teaching and learning in the province, Mchunu said he was pleased that most of KZN’s schools had started classes on the first day. - Daily News