School lock-out bites

2011-09-22 00:00

THE School Governing Body Association has condemned the Education Department’s recent tough stance on pupils who come to school late.

Tardy pupils at KwaZulu-Natal public schools are locked outside the school gates and sent home.

Association chairperson Reginald Chiliza said they are trying to secure a meeting with education MEC Senzo Mchunu to discuss this.

“This policy was not well thought out and we … were not even consulted about it. The children are being turned away by principals who are not even looking at the reasons for them being late.

“It is cruel and irresponsible for a child who was queuing at the taxi rank waiting for transport to get to school and be turned away because they were late.

“We need to sit down with the representatives of [pupils’ body] Cosas and the MEC and find a solution that does not involve pupils getting sent home,” he said.

Yesterday The Witness saw pupils at M.L. Sultan Secondary School being turned away after arriving a few minutes after the bell.

Some joked with pupils inside the school before walking away unperturbed. A grade 12 pupil who was writing his technical drawing exam remained behind. “I had a transport problem so that is why I am late and I am worried that I will miss my exam as we start writing in 15 minutes.

“There is usually a huge group locked outside the gate who have the same problem,” he said.

The boy was let into the school after a teacher logged his late arrival . He was informed that grade 12 pupils are allowed to come into the school if they are late during the exam times.

In a recent incident 21 grade 12 pupils of Zibukezulu Secondary School missed exams because they were late.

Education spokesperson Mbali Thusi said they are waiting for a report on the Zibukezulu Secondary School incident and re­affirmed that coming late will not be tolerated in schools.

“Pupils who arrive late for school will not be allowed in; they are sent back home. Parents are informed by the school if their child reported late for school.

“The pupils are asked to come back to school with their parents or guardians to discuss the pupil’s coming late,” Thusi said.

South African Principals’ Association spokesperson Sundrum Subramoney said that under no circumstances are children to be prevented from writing tests or exams, and if this happens it should be taken up with the department.

“Coming late is a serious problem in schools because if the pupils that are turned away from school [and] get involved in an accident or a criminal activity someone has to take responsibility,” said Subramoney.

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