Learners from the Filadelfia Secondary School convened next to the main road adjacent to the local mall, holding up placards. Picture Goitsemang Tlhabye
Learners from the Filadelfia Secondary School convened next to the main road adjacent to the local mall, holding up placards. Picture Goitsemang Tlhabye

Learners demand ’sexual abuse at Soshanguve special needs school be taken seriously’

By Goitsemang Tlhabye Time of article published Aug 11, 2021

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Pretoria - Learners from the Filadelfia Secondary School in Soshanguve are demanding that the sexual abuse of female learners at the school be taken seriously by the school management and the Gauteng Department of Education.

Learners from the special educational needs school, once again shut down their school and hostels in Soshanguve, burning tyres and blocking some of the roads leading to school with rocks and rubble just to be heard.

Last week learners shut down the school over issues of the poor food quality they were receiving at the hostels which they complained had not changed despite their repeated pleas and even after some learners fell sick from eating the food.

This time around however the learners also convened next to the main road adjacent to the local mall, holding up placards that read: "Sexual abuse has become a habit in our school. Why should teachers take advantage of our background and No sexual relationships between learners and teachers."

Lesedi Mathibela Deputy president of the Representative Council of Learners (RCL) said they had returned to protest as they felt that the school management seemed to be sitting on a case of sexual harassment which had been reported to them during the previous term.

Mathibela said even though schools had been closed for a month after the learner had tried to confide in some teachers regarding being groped at the school not much had been done.

"It looks like the principal is not taking this seriously as he even tried to hide it from the School Governing Body who are supposed to help the school. He brought evidence that they tried to talk to the learner but none of the stakeholders were consulted about this issue."

Another learner Tshepiso Mabusela said they were dismayed that despite taking the steps to report their issues to educators whom they regarded as parents, no one was taking them seriously.

Mabusela said they were forced to protest as they felt as though the department was not actively involved in special schools and they often felt sidelined especially when it came to important issues.

"We all want to be heard, and we want our grievances addressed. So even if they waited for us to take the stand we will do it if that's what needs to happen for action to be taken.

"We want everyone to know that they should not minimise our capabilities because we are disabled. If we cry about something just help us as you would help anyone else who is not disabled."

Mabusela said what also aggravated them was the lack of facilities to accommodate them at the school, as even when counselling was provided in most cases the social worker did not even understand sign language which made communication difficult.

"This is a sensitive issue so it's violating to have to get in another learner to interpret and obviously there will be concerns about the learner's privacy and getting the right information out," added Mathibela.

Pretoria News

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