GHS defies picketers

2010-09-03 00:00

A STAND-OFF between police and angry strikers outside the premises of Girls’ High School (GHS) did not prevent grade 12 pupils from writing their trial examinations yesterday.

The pickets were there to speak out against teachers who have continued to work throughout the three-week public sector strike.

Anticipating problems, several police vehicles were dispatched to the school and the management decided to double security at the school to prevent any incident. Five guards from the Superior Security were added to the four that normally guard the school.

Pierre Bruwer, the owner of Superior Security, said, “We have added more security guards to ensure that the place is secured.”

GHS acting principal Mary-Ann Akerman said: “We have completed the syllabus and right now our grade 12 pupils are writing their physical science and CAT trial examination.”

She added, “As far as we are concerned we would like to carry on with our learning programme because we are satisfied with the [government’s pay] offer.

“We have our matric exams going on and we don’t wish to be disturbed and we are certainly not going to disturb theirs.”

Responding to Akerman, the deputy chairperson for the South African Democartic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) in Pietermaritzburg central, Nhlanhla Ngcobo, said it is a lie that GHS teachers are happy with the offer.

The teachers know that they can afford to carry on working because Sadtu members are busy striking on their behalf, he added.

“Basically what we are doing is we are picketing outside this school because we are not happy that while we are on strike the teachers are busy working.

“How can we be fighting for the same cause while others are acting as if they are not going to benefit from our strike action?” Ngcobo asked.

Referrring to the numbers of police stationed at GHS, he said, “There has been a minor clash with one trigger-happy policeman. However, there have been no incidents of violence, [although] there are so many police officers here.”

He said that when his members picket township schools they do not see so many police officers.

“Are the police only catering for the elite group of schools …?” Ngcobo asked.

PUPILS at Sukuma Comprehensive School and Mehlokazulu High School are continuing to learn in study groups during the strike.

Almost a month has gone by without a learning programme at most schools because of the public servants’ strike.

However, Sukuma grade 12 pupil Nkosinathi Mkhize has not lost hope of enrolling for a mining engineering degree next year.

He and some of his school mates have been meeting to prepare for the final exams in the absence of their teachers.

He said, “Teaching is one of the most important professions because it helps to shape every career that exists, so I understand that in their absence they are fighting for recognition of their rights.”

Mkhize said that all they need to do as pupils is to carry on preparing by teaching one another.

“We all have chapters that we understand better than others do, so everyone teaches the one they understand better.

“However, there are those sections that we struggle with in the absence of teachers,” said Mkhize.

Slindile Ndlovu, in grade 12 at Mehlokazulu: said, “We have been meeting every morning until noon ever since the strike started, just to help each other with some of the school work that we seem to be struggling with.”

See a video of the protest at GHS at www.witness.co.za

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