Cosas gives WCED deadline for new Khayelitsha school principal

2016-09-10 16:09
Joe Slovo Secondary pupils were joined by learners form Bulumko Secondary in Khayelitsha who raised their concerns surrounding gang violence at their school. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Joe Slovo Secondary pupils were joined by learners form Bulumko Secondary in Khayelitsha who raised their concerns surrounding gang violence at their school. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town - The Congress of South African Students (Cosas) has given the Western Cape Education Department until Monday to assign a new principal to Joe Slovo Secondary School in Khayelitsha or "there will be action".

Cosas chairperson Michael Mayalo led a group of pupils from Khayelitsha to the Western Cape Education Department offices in the CBD on Friday to protest against "corrupt" school policies, including a penalty system in which pupils have to pay cash for contravening its code of conduct and its rules regarding hairstyles.

Their memorandum was accepted by a department official, who committed to meeting with role players to deal with the listed issues.

Public order police officers surrounded the group of 250 children who sang on the WCED's doorstep, calling for MEC Debbie Schafer to come and address them.

The pupils are demanding the department intervene in their school being run "like it's a business".

Fines for late-coming, pregnant pupils

The young protesters, dressed in their maroon school uniforms, told News24 girls are fined R850 to return to school should they fall pregnant.

A late-coming fine of R5 is also charged before they are allowed through the gates.

This forces them to scale the fence to get to class if they are unable to pay, or to clean toilets as punishment, pupils said.

They also questioned what the money was being used for, demanding to know if the staff was "eating it up".

On Tuesday, a group of latecomers set a classroom and rubbish bins alight, hurled stones at the building and broke the windows of a classroom where Grade 12s were writing their exams.
The pupils were 90 minutes late.

According to the education department, the pupils damaged cars on the premises, including that of the principal. The learners also allegedly threw stones at the police when they arrived.

Schafer on Wednesday condemned the pupils for resorting to violence and destroying public property.

Eight were arrested on charges of public violence and arson.

Pupils also complained about not being allowed to wear synthetic hair or sport "creative" hairstyles.

They claim that if their hair was styled and not cut short or in a standard ponytail, teachers would pour water on it and "mess it up".

‘It’s your hair’

Mayalo encouraged pupils, especially the girls, to "do what they like with their hair this weekend".

"It's not about your hair; it's about the education you are entitled to. Your hair is yours. Your hair doesn't disturb education," he said.

"They must be allowed to feel pretty in their uniform. If teachers take issue [on Monday], we will make [the school] ungovernable."

He said while Cosas condemned the vandalism of schools, they would be supporting the arrested learners when they appear in court on October 7.

"What they did was out of frustration," he said.

All of the pupils, who have been released into their parents’ custody, are in Grade 8, with only one being in a more senior grade and legally an adult, Mayalo said.

Schafer previously said the allegations listed in a memorandum were being investigated by district officials.

Read more on:    cosas  |  cape town  |  education  |  protests

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