Teachers display plackards showing their grievences at Piet Retief Primary School yesterday. PICTURE MARK WING.

Durban - Teachers at a primary school in Pietermaritzburg downed tools and picketed on the pavement outside the school on Thursday in a desperate attempt to draw the Education Department’s attention to a growing discipline problem at the school.

The teachers from Piet Retief School in Napierville were demanding the department dissolve the governing body because it did not conduct disciplinary inquiries with problem pupils and treated teachers with no respect.

The children were present at school on Thursday but played under the teachers’ supervision instead of learning.

Teachers said that because some of the governing body members’ children needed to be disciplined, it was not conducting any inquiries.

A teacher said the body refused to suspend children who assaulted others.

“What example are they setting? That learners must humiliate and undermine authority and retaliate even more? The children are aware of this and do as they please because they know there won’t be repercussions. They carry knives to school. Gangs have been formed who threaten other children.”

Another teacher said some on the body were not attending meetings and those who attended hurled verbal abuse at them.

“They (the governing body) make false accusations at times, basing complaints on race and referring to apartheid.”

The teachers said they took the matter up with the department in February, but nothing had been done.

The chairman of the governing body, who did not want to be named, said the school followed the South African Schools Act which made it clear that suspensions should not be used as a means of punishment.

“If you want to discipline, you must use other forms of punishment, or you are taking away the pupil’s right to an education,” he said.

Department spokesman Sihle Mlotshwa said a delegation from the district office had been sent to the school to find out what was going on.

“We are disturbed that because of the squabble, learners have become the victims.”

The Mercury