WC pupils protest over conditions at schools

Cape Town - Pupils from around 30 Western Cape schools protested on Friday afternoon to get Premier Helen Zille to take their demands for safe schools seriously, Equal Education (EE) said.

A group of pupils were seen protesting along the N2 near Somerset West and in Observatory, Cape Town, at the start of the matric exam period.

EE Western Cape head Nishal Robb said pupils in Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein, Nyanga, and Langa decided last Tuesday to demand changes at their schools.

They wanted three provincial MECs and Western Cape police leaders to respond to demands they had been presenting since April, and a meeting with them to tell them what they needed.

On September 20, pupils presented the findings of a study into measures urgently needed at some schools in the province to provincial government representatives.

Safety protest

The 185-page report titled “Of Loose Papers and Vague Allegations” was presented to Education MEC Debbie Schafer, Social Development MEC Albert Fritz, Safety and Security MEC Dan Plato, and provincial deputy police commissioner Thembekile Patekile.

It was a follow-up to a protest outside Schafer's house in June.

The report was an audit of 244 schools serving 217 388 pupils, and was based on interviews with pupils.

The study concluded that pupils felt unsafe at school and going to or from school.

They were concerned that corporal punishment was still being carried out even though it was illegal, and wanted to know why security at many schools was so poor.

Robb said the pupils had been waiting since April for the changes to take place, and were fed up.

"The learners don’t want to hear that they might do this, or might do that," he said.

After Friday’s protest, pupils would decide what to do next but, said Robb, a prolonged stay away akin to the university protests was unlikely.

"The pupils are committed to getting a proper education. We don’t foresee an indefinite shutdown like on university campuses," he said.

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