The crisis at Klipspruit West Secondary School started over the appointment of a black principal.
Johannesburg - The stalemate between the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and the Gauteng Department of Education is threatening to ground schooling in the south of Joburg this week.

Last week, the union - the biggest in the township - announced it would be boycotting classes because of alleged racism at Klipspruit West Secondary School.

Over 345 teachers affiliated with the union boycotted classes in schools in Eldorado Park.

On Sunday, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi warned teachers to go back to school on Monday morning. However, the union said its teachers wouldn’t go back to school because Lesufi was supposed to meet them on Friday but did not show up. That’s according to Desmond Luvhengo, the Eldorado Park Sadtu chairperson.

Lesufi’s spokesperson Steve Mabona claimed the meeting didn’t go ahead because not enough teachers showed up for it.

“It’s not the responsibility of the department to inform the union to tell its members to return to their schools, as we never told them to stop in the first place.

“They are supposed to know their responsibilities as employees,” Mabona pointed out.

On the other hand, Lesufi said the withdrawal of labour by Sadtu in all Eldorado Park schools was “noted with serious concern for disrupting learning and teaching, as well as failure by the union to follow proper procedures”.

He said a meeting with the provincial union representatives would be held on Monday.

“In the meantime, all educators must report to the school and carry out their duty to educate learners and prepare for final exams,” Lesufi added.

But Luvhengo maintained that would not happen.

“The members will not be reporting to the schools as we were not informed, and me telling the members to return to the schools would make me a sell-out,” he said.

Luvhengo said that if a resolution was not reached at the meeting scheduled for Monday, teachers from Ennerdale, Lenasia and Soweto who are affiliated to Sadtu would join the boycott.

The boycott is the result of one at Klipspruit West Secondary School, where the community last week refused black staff members access to the premises.

The problems at the school started more than two months ago over the appointment of a black principal.

Luvhengo said that as the Education Department was not protecting teachers, it was up to the union to come to their rescue.

The boycott, however, will not have an impact on matric pupils as Lesufi has decided to remove them from the school and send them to a camp until they write their exams.

Lesufi also said an interim management structure would be placed at the school to stabilise it.

“A team of four officials from head office, working with the acting principal, will fill in the management vacuum at the school.”

He said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was still reviewing the appointment of the principal.

Lesufi has also called on the SA Human Right Commission to assist in addressing the allegations of racism at Klipspruit West Secondary.

The commission is due to announce the dates and processes regarding public hearings on racism.

Greater Eldorado Park Forum spokesperson Charis Pretorius said it was unfortunate that political agendas were placed ahead of pupils’ needs.

“The removal of the educators could have been handled better, and not during exams,” she pointed out.

Lesufi arrived at Klipspruit West Secondary School yesterday morning with MEC for Infrastructure Development Jacob Mamabolo and some residents to clean up the school grounds.

Pretorius said Lesufi cleaning the school was just a publicity stunt, which showed that he didn’t care about the bigger issues at the school. “The school is left with 10 teachers and there are about 800 learners.

“The Grade 11s are scared and confused, the matrics are supposed to be preparing for their preliminary exams and there is a dysfunctional school governing body. Him (Lesufi) cleaning the school is just for show,” said Pretorius.

The Star