Tension remains at school

2018-08-29 06:02
Tension runs high at the Xhunkwesa Combined School in Platfontein where the Northern Cape Department of Education was summoned to address the clashes between the School Governing Body, some of the teachers and the principal on Thursday (23/08).Photo: Boipelo Mere

Tension runs high at the Xhunkwesa Combined School in Platfontein where the Northern Cape Department of Education was summoned to address the clashes between the School Governing Body, some of the teachers and the principal on Thursday (23/08).Photo: Boipelo Mere

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The situation remains tense at the Xhunkwesa Combined School in Platfontein following disruptions due to clashes between members of the School Governing Body (SGB), the principal and some of the teachers on Thursday (23/08).

This led to the SGB members preventing principal Nicolas Snyders entry to the school on Thursday.

The SGB accused Snyders of being biased and demanded that he returns with the MEC for Education in the Northern Cape, Martha Bartlett, to intervene in the matter.

Schooling was disrupted on Thursday as most of the teachers followed the principal. Only a minority of the teachers remained, resulting in learners leaving for home.

Departmental officials arrived at the school later that morning after a sit-in by some of the teachers at the Frances Baard District Office who claimed they feared for their safety.

The tension is reported to have started shortly after the elections of the new SGB in April this year, where the principal is accused of refu­sing to recognise the newly elected SGB.

Several protest actions have been reported at the school, including threats and mismanagement of funds, as the outgoing SGB still holds office.

The new SGB blames the department for tolerating the clashes and not intervening, while they are being sabotaged from doing their work.

They further accused Snyders of causing division among the community and the teachers, jeopardising the education of the learners.

The Department of Education did not respond on the allegations made against the principal and the mismanagement of funds.

By Monday (27/08) the principal had not yet returned to school while schooling continued.

The department however promised its utmost best to resolve the concerns of the community and the SGB.

According to the spokesperson for the Department of Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, concerns raised are related to unhappiness by the community with a teacher and the principal of the school.

“It is clear that the division in this community is affecting the education of learners as well as valuable learning and teaching being lost,” added Van der Merwe.

The department said it is not getting the necessary cooperation from the SGB to resolve the matter.

The engagement between the department and the SGB on Thursday was reportedly only to schedule an appointment for a meeting to sit on Friday (24/08).

The meeting did not happen due to the department’s failure to pitch.

According to the chairperson of the SGB, Jason Maranda, they were in the process of delivering another letter to re-schedule the meeting with the department for Friday (31/08).

They want all the teachers who went to the department’s district office to forfeit that day’s salary as they did not work.

He said their actions should be seen as an attempt to reclaim their voice by dismissing Snyders.

“We want to continue the work that we are elected to do – which is improve the future of our children – while he is busy plotting and dividing the community and the teachers.

“Every time we call a meeting, he (Snyders) boycotts it and label it unlawful. We have written letters of complaints to the department several times, but do not get positive responses,” Marenda said.

“We did a follow-up on the financial records at the bank and realised that we still do not have signing rights while school funds are being used.”

The department appeals to the broader Platfontein community to work together and provide the department with the necessary cooperation to resolve this matter for once and for all.

“That is to allow schooling to return back to normal.

“Collectively, we must ensure that we always have the best interest of our learners at heart and allow them their right to education,” said Van der Merwe.

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