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Johannesburg - A bungled merger of two Soweto schools is causing havoc.
On Wednesday, police had to be called to prevent angry parents from removing their children from Sediba-Thuto Higher Primary School in Mapetla and taking them back to their old school, Megatong Lower Primary.
The parents, mostly women, toyi-toyed next to the school’s entrance after they were locked out. Inside the school, officials from the Gauteng Department of Education’s local district office were in a meeting with members of the school governing body.
“All we want is for our children to be taken back to Megatong. This merger is not working. We can’t sit and watch while our children suffer because there is no (effective) teaching and learning,” said a parent, Deborah Morris.
The parents’ protest came at a time when some of the pupils sit for the annual national assessment exams.
Megatong was merged into Sediba-Thuto Higher Primary School in 2008 because of a decline in enrolment. But the merger seemed to falter soon thereafter because some teachers from Megatong refused to take orders from Sediba-Thuto principal Claudio Sono.
Compounding the problem was the fact that the two schools continued to use separate account numbers and letterheads. Pupils also were issued with progress reports on the letterheads of the two schools.
This effectively resulted in two parallel schools running in the same premises.
Teachers who are signatories to Megatong’s school account refused on numerous occasions to use funds deposited into their school as long as the merger was not annulled. This is despite the fact that Sediba-Thuto is classified under Section 20 schools while Megatong is a Section 21 institution.
Section 21 schools are schools that receive funding from the department and buy their own pupil-teacher support material, while Section 20 schools get study material directly from the department.
On Thursday, disgruntled parents tried to storm Sediba-Thuto in an attempt to remove their children.
“This (merger) thing is causing too many problems for the school. You can’t have a situation where teachers fight in front of children,” said Morris.
She accused officials from the local education district office of “messing around with our children’s future”.
Said another parent, Phindile Serake: “This is exactly why many parents take their children to schools in Lenasia and around town (Joburg).”
School governing body deputy chairman Michael Chababa said parents had resolved that pupils from Megatong would be relocated to their school on October 1, when the schools re-open for the fourth term.
Gauteng Department of Education spokesman Gershwin Chuenyane said the department had appointed an independent team to look at mergers and closures of Soweto schools and they would act based on their report.