Johannesburg - A Joburg parent is seething after a teacher allegedly told her child who failed to answer a maths question he reminded her of President Jacob Zuma – who could not read or count properly.
The mother of the 10-year-old boy complained that the “unsavoury and disparaging” remarks showed that the school, Ridgevale Primary in Roodepoort, could be used as an arena to push certain political agendas ahead of the May elections.
The mother cannot be named to protect the identity of her child as he is a minor.
“Why should a teacher utter such a statement to 10-year-olds, who are very young and impressionable? It’s clear the school has become an arena to push political agendas in a very subtle way. She (the teacher) was playing a DA agenda by discrediting the ANC president,” said the parent.
The parent said the problem started last week when the child pointed out ANC and DA posters hanging on the lampposts and asked her “which party are you voting for?”.
“I said I am voting for the ANC. He said ‘why would you vote for the ANC because President Jacob Zuma hasn’t gone to school’. I said who told you (that)? He said ‘my teacher’,” said the parent.
“I then asked him if it was a history lesson, and he said it was sums and they were counting 10s, 100s and 1 000s. He said I got the answer wrong and the teacher said ‘you remind me of President Jacob Zuma because there was a speech where he didn’t pronounce the numbers properly’. I was fuming, so I went to the school to complain.”
The teacher in question, Katherine da Silva, denied the allegations against her.
“My statements were taken out of context and I have done nothing wrong,” she said.
The school defended the teacher, saying her remarks were taken out of context.
“It was during a maths lesson when one of our teachers referred to Zuma’s speech where he didn’t read the figure correctly. The incident was on TV, and the fact is my students had seen it. There was nothing malicious about it,” said principal TJ Jordaan.
But the mother was adamant that it was insensitive for the teacher to make such utterances about Zuma to young children.
“It wasn’t the right platform to utter such statements. It was delivered in a very negative and biased way. From now onwards, the children will associate anything that is mediocre with the president, who is not educated. Just because we have an illiterate president doesn’t mean certain things are not going to be done right.”
Jordaan said the school management would meet teachers to “caution them about using statements that could be misconstrued as political”.
Education Department spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said they were angered by the allegations and investigating the matter.