Siblings miss exams after being sent home for not having school shoes
Johannesburg - Two indigent primary school pupils who are siblings have missed two exams after they were “thrown” out of school for not wearing proper shoes that their unemployed mother could not afford.
The two boys, aged 10 and 12, were allegedly chased away by their principal at Makhoarane Primary School in Dobsonville, Soweto, on Tuesday after they attended school wearing takkies. They were allegedly told only to return once they had proper school shoes. They have since missed their Grade 5 and 6 exams.
Their mother, Sharon Bill, 41, is an unemployed single parent who is also raising four other children at a hospice and children’s village in Roodepoort, where she is being accommodated free of charge.
The Gauteng Education Department has since launched an investigation into the matter, with threats of disciplinary action. The principal, however, has dismissed the mother’s claims, accusing her of not looking after her children.
“I was surprised to see my kids home so early that day. When they told me what happened I was hurt because it’s not like I don’t want them to wear school shoes, but I don’t have the money to buy them,” said the mother.
“My plan was to buy the shoes at the end of November. But because the ones they wore at school were torn I then told them to wear the sneakers I bought them in December,” she said. They started wearing the takkies last week.
She claimed that the school would usually hand out second-hand uniforms and shoes to disadvantaged pupils. Her children last received these in 2017 and last year. The school has exempted her children from paying school fees.
She said that since her children started school they had not worn casual shoes and she would go all out to ensure they had the required shoes. She collects a social grant for her children while doing odd jobs at the hospice in exchange for accommodation.
“Currently I help at the gate as a security guard,” she said.
School principal Mpho Ndwambi dismissed Bill’s claims, saying she was making excuses.
“She just doesn’t care about the kids.She doesn’t look after them. They come to school looking untidy. All I tried to do was to force the mother to look after her kids. She gets a social grant for the kids, but doesn’t look after them,” said Ndwambi.
The Gauteng Education Department confirmed the pupils had been sent home and that they missed their exams. It said it has since launched an inquiry into the matter.
“The said investigation will help the department to take necessary disciplinary action against anyone who might have played a role in allegedly expelling the pupils from school. This behaviour cannot be tolerated,” said spokesperson Steve Mabona.
He added: “The department has already interacted with the family to send the children back to school. Whether they have the uniform or not is immaterial. It is paramount that these pupils be allowed back at school accordingly.”
Mabona said that the pupils were going to be given an opportunity to write the exams they had missed.