Learners at Filadelfia Secondary School protest against alleged sexual abuse and poor quality food at the school. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
Learners at Filadelfia Secondary School protest against alleged sexual abuse and poor quality food at the school. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Panyaza Lesufi responds to sexual harassment grievances at Filadelfia Secondary School

By Goitsemang Tlhabye Time of article published Aug 16, 2021

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Pretoria - The Gauteng Department of Education has finally heard the pleas of learners at the Filadelfia Secondary School in Soshanguve following days of interruptions over the alleged sexual harassment of learners.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi visited the school for learners with special educational needs on Thursday after learners shut down the school last Wednesday over the alleged sexual harassment of some learners.

Departmental spokesperson Steve Mabona said the MEC was not happy about a number of issues that he had noted following the visit.

Mabona said among these were concerns regarding the condition of the school – from infrastructure and management to the curriculum, teacher behaviour and learner discipline.

Mabona said Lesufi would be returning to the school today accompanied by the department’s senior management to pave the way for a solution.

Learners at Filadelfia Secondary School protest against alleged sexual abuse and poor quality food at the school. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Learners closed the school on August 5, demanding the ousting of the school catering team that they alleged fed them poor quality food at the hostels.

The learners alleged they had begun raising their concerns about the poor food quality that learners had been served since 2018.

They then intensified their protest action and gathered 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? No sexual relationships between learners and teachers.”

Lesedi Mathibela, the deputy president of the Representative Council of Learners (RCL), said they had intensified their efforts as they felt school management seemed to be sitting on a case of sexual harassment reported to them during the previous term.

Mathibela said even though the school had been closed for a month after a learner tried to confide in some teachers that she had been sexually harassed at the school, not much had been done to date.

“It looks like the principal is not taking this seriously as he even tried to hide it from the school governing body which is supposed to help the school.

“He brought evidence that they tried to talk to the learner, but none of the stakeholders was consulted about this issues,” she said.

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

Mabusela said they were forced to strike as they felt that 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 if they are waiting for us to take the stand we will do it if that’s what needs to happen for action to be taken.

Mabona said Lesufi would address the issues.

Pretoria News

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