Pupils from Setumo-Khiba Secondary protest outside their school in Mabopane. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/ANA Pictures
Pretoria – Schooling at Setumo-Khiba Secondary School in Mabopane was cancelled on Monday after pupils refused to enter the school premises because of poor conditions, among them overflowing sewage and blocked toilets.

They had the support of their parents.

Together they vowed not to set foot inside the school premises until all the issues had been resolved.

Pupils complained that they had nowhere to relieve themselves because of the toilets always being in a bad condition.

They said some of the classes were also in bad shape, to the point where pigeons would poop on them while they were in class.

“We have the right to be taught in a clean and healthy environment,” Representative Council of Learners member Mathapelo Masilela said.

She said when walking from one classroom to another, they were forced to pass close to the sewage spillage and contended with urine and faeces.

The poor conditions at Setumo-Khiba Secondary School in Mabopane that pupils have to endure every day. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Pupils, parents and school governing body members on Monday joined their children in protesting against the circumstances, saying they too were sick and tired of the horrible conditions.

They had endured them for two years, they said.

They said they had tried to fix the toilets themselves in 2015.

But now they felt it was high time everyone in the education system played their part.

“This issue may look like it is the principal’s duty because she is the head of the school, but she is not a plumber. There is not much she can do. So we wrote letters to the district to lodge our complaints but nothing came from that,” said governing body member Kedibone Lebese.

She said they went to the district on Friday and the response they received was that their school was among those that needed to be fixed.

The poor conditions at Setumo-Khiba Secondary School in Mabopane that pupils have to endure every day. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

She said: “We don’t care about other schools being fixed; we are parents concerned about our children’s health and we are not interested in other schools.”

Lebese said they had always fixed things using their maintenance person but he too could only do so much.

Matriculants were set to write their Home Language paper three test, but due to the shutdown they couldn't.

Matrics said it was really difficult for them to concentrate as their classrooms were near the sewage spill.

“Everyone expects a 100% pass from us, but how can we pass if we can hardly concentrate in class?” asked Odirile Maje.

Officials from the district arrived at the school and told parents and pupils to wait for the director to attend to the issue, but pupils grew tired and went home.

Only a few parents waited patiently outside the school for the director to arrive, but hours later he had not pitched.

That led to parents to issue a threat of a mass demonstration on Tuesday if there was still no response.

Provincial Department of Education acting spokesperson Oupa Bodibe said they had plans to refurbish the toilets at the school and committed to expedite the process.

“The department respects and upholds everyone’s right to protest. However, we request communities who engage in protests not to disrupt learning and teaching in our schools,” he said.

Bodibe urged community members to use available structures to raise issues of concern, and not to resort to disrupting schooling. He said: “The district will develop a catch-up plan for learners to recover the time lost."

"The district will continue to monitor the situation."

Pretoria News