Parents and pupils take to the street over unplaced pupils
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Cape Town – Parents of children in Forest Village took to the streets this morning demanding a school for their children.
The parents blockaded the Old Faure Road opposite where their children attend a makeshift school.
About 650 children from the area are still attending classes under trees at Old Faure Road where they are being taught by voluntary teachers.
The parents of the children say they are tired of going back and forth at the Department of Education because they are not getting any solutions.
One parent, Sizeka Ketelo, said they were protesting because their children had no classrooms and were being taught outside.
“We have been engaging with the Western Cape Education Department for them to make a plan for our children but they are not doing anything about it – all they do is make promises. We are sick and tired and that is why we decided to protest,” she said.
She said when the department told them to go register their children at nearby schools they did, only to be told that the schools were full.
She said when it was hot or raining their children stayed at home because there was no shelter.
“It’s is almost winter and when it rains our children do not go to school even though they want to go to school,” she said.
She said the department did not approach them this morning to address their issues and if they did not get any clearance they would protest again tomorrow.
MEC Debbie Schafer’s spokesperson, Kerri Mauchline, said they were aware of 336 pupils at the site and not 600 as claimed.
“Of the 336, 218 of the learners are already registered at a school. Of the 117 that remained unplaced last week, the WCED has arranged to accommodate these learners.
’’On Thursday last week, the department held another meeting with the community leaders and had a fruitful discussion, where it was agreed that the department should proceed with placing the remaining 117 learners. A detailed catch-up plan is in place for the learners starting school late, and their progress will be closely monitored by their schools and district officials. It was also agreed to that discussions would continue about the possible need for another school in the area, but this would be a long-term matter.’’
She said despite the agreement it seemed that a number of people were willing to continue to exploit children by demanding that this illegal school be recognised.
’’Their demands continue to relate to the employment of educators at the illegal school. Instead of allowing the learners to be placed at a legal school with all the necessary resources and support, the children are now being held as ransom for the demands of these individuals. This very sad situation now needs to end. As a department we have fulfilled our role, and have done everything to try and assist these learners time and time again. We cannot unfortunately physically force the learners into a school, but require their parents to take them.’’
’’Preventing children from going to school in order to strong-arm a department into giving someone a job is shameful. It is now clear that the learners’ best interests were never the focus here. We cannot take responsibility for this school and the decisions made by the community from here on. If a parent would like the department to place their child, then they must please contact the district to confirm their placement. We will gladly assist. But as long as those learners sit under the tree, the community members driving this horrid process are sadly the reason why they are not attending a public school,’’ Mauchline said.