‘It’s not the children’s fault’

2019-01-10 15:38

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Not all was smooth sailing on the first day of school on Wednesday as parents complained about their children being sent home for various reasons. 

The Witness was inundated with calls from irate parents across the city complaining about their children being sent back home by “unreasonable” principals and teachers.

A woman, who asked not to be named to protect the identity of her grandchild, said the 10-year-old was sent away from Grange Primary because they did not have R800 for registration.

“She has been going to that school since Grade 1 and we have never been required to pay any money on the first day of school.

“My daughter had taken the child to school and they said the principal sent them back home because they did not have this money. That is very unreasonable,” said the woman.

She added that she supported her unemployed daughter and her grandchild on her R1 600 pension.

“I really don’t have the money they want. My grandchild had been so excited about going back to school — now she is here at home worried and stressed out.

“When I told her that I am calling The Witness she begged me not to expose her in the newspaper because her schoolmates were going to see that she has no money and laugh at her,” she said.

Another furious parent, who also asked not to be named, said her 18-year-old daughter, who is in matric, was sent home from Haythorne Secondary School because “her skirt was too short”.

“The skirt looked perfectly reasonable to me when she left for school this morning. It is four fingers above the knee as per the school’s uniform policy.

“Even if they did feel it was too short, I don’t think they should have sent her home for that,” she added.

The mother said several other pupils at the school were sent home because of uniform issues.

Desiree Morrison, a member of an Eastwood Bible group called Exodus, said Eastwood Secondary School was sending pupils home for not paying a R500 deposit. “It’s very concerning that a school would send children back home for something that these kids have absolutely no control over.

“It’s also not a good idea for the school to be sending children home because these children might end up doing bad things as we have a serious drug problem in our community,” she said.

The woman said she tried calling the local and provincial departments of Education to report the matter but got no response.

KZN Education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said schools were not allowed to send pupils home.

“Our position is that no children should ever miss school or be sent away from school because their parents cannot afford to pay registration, deposit or school fees.

“It is the parent or guardian’s responsibility to pay for school fees and pupils should not be punished if the fees are not paid for whatever reason,” said Mlotshwa.

He added that the district director, Siqhamo Mabinza, would be addressing the matter to ensure that all principals know and understand the rules.

Mlotshwa instructed all the pupils who were sent home on Wednesday to go back to school on Thursday and urged parents to report schools that continued to send children home to their district offices.

Asked about pupils being sent home for wearing their school uniforms inappropriately, Mlotshwa again urged schools to handle such matters in a different way.

“Schools can find alternative ways in dealing with such matters rather than sending pupils home.

“We also urge parents to help by ensuring that their children are dressed appropriately before they leave home for school in the mornings,” added Mlotshwa.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  back to school

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