Limpopo school pupils and parents protest over chairs

Limpopo school pupils and parents protest over chairs

POLOKWANE – SCHOOL pupils and parents in Limpopo disrupted schooling at Luthuli Park Combined School, demanding the immediate supply of furniture.

School pupils  returned home, saying they could not share 36 chairs in the school, where at least 1 000  of them  have had to go without chairs or desk in their classrooms, the chairman of the school’s governing body said.

Clifford Mohloana said parents returned to the school and endorsed their children’s protest. They accused the department of education of failing to deliver on its mandate.

Angry parents locked the school and bused their children to the department’s headquarters in Polokwane on Wednesday and demanded MEC Ishmael Kgetsepe agreed to deliver chairs and desks to the school.

However, two hours later police were called to restore order at the department’s headquarters, and parents agreed to return home without meeting with Kgetsepe.

Later in the day, the school’s governing body’s leaders circulated an invitation to parents, and informed the education department that Kgetsepe must attend the meeting or they would deliver the message at his official residence.

Mohloana said the protest was started by “our children” but when parents enquired as to the reason, they took the same view as the shortage of chairs was “shocking”.

Mohloana said their top demand of the department was that it obtain furniture suitable for 1,000 learners.

“They told us that they delivered 36 chairs, [but]how do you say you deliver chairs and boast when hundreds of chairs are needed, and you expect our children to share 36 chairs,” argued Mohloana.

Parents also accused the department of not providing suitable teachers since the school opened in 2000.

Mohloana said when they made demands for additional classrooms, successive MECs used the excuse that they were new to the job.

He said every MEC who came to the department had told parents “I am still new”.

“There is no MEC who has finished their term there,” he said adding that the parents also wanted the department to make land available for a new high school.

The department criticised parents for taking their children out of class and staging a sit-in at the department’s headquarters.

Provincial education spokesperson Naledzani Rasila confirmed that they delivered chairs and other furniture early this year, but could not confirm whether 36 chairs had been supplied.

However, he acknowledged that the school had a shortage of furniture for the learners.

“It’s true that we have a shortage of school furniture, but we are in the process of procuring. It was delayed by the procedure we had to follow, and even Luthuli is also affected — we did not forget them,” said Rasila. – ANA