Pupils late and locked out

2012-04-19 00:00

SOME drank alcohol, one went to fetch her boyfriend, boys played soccer on the street and others went straight home. But they should have been in class.

These were some of the scenes yesterday outside Haythorne Secondary School in Woodlands after the school shut its gates for latecomers.

Scores of boys and girls camped outside the school premises demanding that the main gate to school be opened.

“I’m late because I need to take my baby to crèche and clean the house before I come to school,” a Grade 11 pupil told The Witness.

Another said she lived in Imbali and left the house at 6.30 am, but traffic jams and long queues at the taxi rank delayed her.

“I’m in Grade 12 and we’re writing tests in two weeks’ time.

“How do they expect us to pass if they won’t let us in?” she cried.

Most pupils told The Witness that their 7.45 am starting time was too early.

“What’s the point of coming to school early when teachers only start their lessons at 9 am?” another pupil asked.

For some it was an opportunity to go out with their peers.

“We’re just going to find ourselves a park to go drink and smoke,” a pupil bragged.

A concerned parent from Napierville critcised the school’s decision to close the gates to the pupils.

“My concern is that there are children who use two taxis to get to school and with these traffic jams they can’t make it there by 7.45 am, but I agree there is no excuse for local residents.

“If you stop them from getting into the school’s yard these kids will start doing wrong things,” he said.

A Woodlands resident who lives near a bottle store said she was appalled by the pupils’ behaviour.

“They were drinking. They sent older fellows to go and buy them alcohol. They were very rowdy.”

Department of Education spokesperson Mbali Thusi said schools had been instructed not to admit pupils if they arrived late.

Thusi said: “We’re reiterating this stance not only to instill a culture of discipline among pupils but also for all pupils to take education seriously.”

South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said the union was urging schools to come up with ways to curb latecomers.

“We used to think locking pupils out would work.

“But this defeats the purpose because some pupils get stranded,” Cembi said.

She urged teachers to arrive early and be prepared at schools and to adhere to a campaign of quality learning and teaching.

“Everything starts at home and parents must ensure that their children wake up early in the morning,” she advised.

One pupil said she had learnt her lesson: “I’ll make sure I get to school early. I’m going to leave the house at 6.15 am.”

• gabisile.ngcobo@witness.co.za

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