Education department blames schools for protests

2015-07-27 11:31
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Port Elizabeth - Amid reports of escalating violence in a protest in Port Elizabeth's Northern Areas on Monday morning over vacancies at schools, the education department said some schools had failed to appoint staff.

Police reportedly used rubber bullets, water cannons and stun grenades to disperse protesters who had blockaded the area. The protesters appeared to be parents of pupils, the pupils themselves and local taxi associations.

Eastern Cape police could not be immediately reached to confirm reports that protesters had begun to make petrol bombs or that a child had been shot.

Provincial education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani told News24 that 23 schools were illegally closed down by protesters.

"Since Tuesday we had daily meetings with the [Northern Areas Education] Forum. This protest is more about a misunderstanding than a failure of the department to deliver," he said.

He said there was a significant shortage of teachers in schools in the area, and at the beginning of the year the department provided schools with 122 positions that needed to be filled.

"So far only 57 positions have been filled."

He said the schools and their school governing bodies did not "come forward" to the department with the problems with the vacancies.

Lack of communication

He said a "miscommunication" happened when the forum, which included SGBS from schools in the northern areas, met with parents and told them about the vacancies.

He said the forum was expected to meet with parents on Monday night and the education MEC would also visit the area.

"We have a strong feeling that we should be able to find a lasting solution in this matter. Teaching and learning should be able to continue [for pupils from those 23 schools] by Tuesday or Wednesday."

Ronnie Mathys, the chairperson of the Northern Areas Education Forum, told Algoa FM on Sunday that the decision to protest was taken at a meeting of parents on Friday.

"For quite a while the forum, representing the parents, have been in negotiations and talks with the department up to the highest level and it seems like nothing is forthcoming.  The parents have decided to add a bit of impetus to the protest action to draw attention to the seriousness of the whole issue," he said.

In an earlier meeting it reportedly emerged that some schools had neglected to submit their documents to the Education Department on time to facilitate teacher recruitment.

Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  education  |  protests

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