Latecomers denied access to education

2019-05-01 06:00
Ikusaselihle pupils wait in a container for school to finish on Monday.PHOTO: lethiwe makhanya

Ikusaselihle pupils wait in a container for school to finish on Monday.PHOTO: lethiwe makhanya

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IKUSASELIHLE Secondary School pupils say they want the Department of Education to intervene in a procedure used by their school when they arrive late.

Pupils say school security guards lock them out of school for the entire day if they arrive after a certain time.

The school bell rings at 7.30 am and the gate close at 7.45 am.

Pupils say they wait outside the school and at the nearby tuck-shops until school closes for the day. They say they are scared to return home.

Others say they wait outside with hope that security guards at the gate will eventually let them in, but that does not happen.

Speaking to Echo outside their school gate on Monday after being locked out, pupils said they are worried about this procedure as they are behind with school work.

A grade 12 pupil, who did not want to be named, said this practice has been going on for years and no one has done anything about it.

“Since I started Grade 8 in this school, pupils always get locked out when they are late.

“The sad part is that the next day, when you are early, the teacher will chase you out of class because you did not attend the previous day. That means you have missed classes for two days.

“The security guard doesn’t allow you in when you are late, even if you are writing a test or exam. The teacher will then give you zero because you are regarded as someone who is absent at school — that is not right.

“Our parents do not even know that we spend the whole day outside the school doing nothing because we are late,” he said.

Another pupil said they don’t have a problem with being punished for arriving late but it should not affect their education.

“I believe that there is another [method] they can use to punish us instead of denying us the right to education.

“Today (Monday) some of us are supposed to be writing a maths test but we can’t because we are locked out. These test marks contribute to our year mark. This is worrying. We are going to fail,” he said.

The pupils say one of the reasons why they are late is because they live a long distance away from the school and have to walk.

They say it becomes worse in winter because there are criminals who try to rob them of their belongings.

“When we asked about this procedure we were told that it is the school’s code of conduct. Some [children] have started smoking because we are trying not to think too much about the problem while [we are] waiting outside,” said one pupil.

MEC for Education in KwaZulu-Natal Mthandeni Dlungwane said they have received information regarding the procedure of locking pupils out because they are late.

He said they have told the principals to stop with this practice because it is a crime to lock the pupils out of school.

“It is against the school’s code of conduct to lock pupils out.

“A school’s code of conduct must say what is going to happen to him/ her if a child is late as a part of a disciplinary hearing but not lock them out.

“We are against what the principals and the teachers are doing.

“We have told the schools that if this continues, we will be forced to charge teachers and principals who are doing it.

“Since we have given an instruction, if that instruction is not followed, there will be decisions that we will need to take,” he said.

Dlungwane said he will visit the schools that are accused of locking out their pupils for being late in order to address the issue.

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