Western Cape MEC dashes past desperate pupils protesting at her home

2016-06-30 16:30
The pupils camped outside Schafer's home. (Equal Education, Twitter)

The pupils camped outside Schafer's home. (Equal Education, Twitter)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - The protest by about 80 pupils and activists from Equal Education outside the home of Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer’s home on Thursday, was a cry to be heard, the group said.

They claimed an audit on school safety sent to her office two months ago, was being ignored.

“We want to engage,” provincial EE head Nishal Robb told News24. “This was a move of desperation.”

Dozens of young people stood outside Schäfer’s Bergvliet home on Thursday for two hours in a bid to discuss the results of the audit.

Schäfer, however, did not engage with them. A video posted on Twitter by Equal Education shows her walking out of her front gate to her car while police stand in front of the organisation’s representatives who call out to her.

The organisation supplied the MEC with the results of a social audit of safety and sanitation conditions in Western Cape schools.

A total of 912 pupils were surveyed between September and November last year about the conditions at 244 schools. Site inspections were also conducted and school administrators were interviewed.

Among the findings was that one in every six people at the province’s schools feel unsafe owing to a widespread lack of a sense of security.

The research also found that at 83% of schools, teachers were using corporal punishment.

At 91% of the schools where corporal punishment was reportedly still done, teachers used a form of weapon - the most common being a ruler or small stick.

Robb said numerous attempts had been made by the organisation to engage with Schäfer about the findings, which were handed over to the provincial education department 10 weeks ago.

He said the MEC’s refusal to engage with them was disrespectful and that she is “ignoring what’s going on”.

She said the activists had blocked access to her driveway and demanded that she go outside to address them.

Schäfer insisted she had no issue with engaging with any organisation.

“Today, however, a line was crossed. They came, apparently, to hand me what they have called a social audit.  I have engaged with Equal Education on numerous occasions on social media regarding this issue of their ‘social audit’ – at no point did they request to meet me or try and engage with me at my workplace.”
She said she had asked for the report on several occasions and have not received it.

What she did receive, Schäfer said, was hundreds of hand written notes from pupils which had to be collated by district directors to whom the audit was addressed.

The information did not refer to specific cases or dates and some issues were in relation to their community, which was not the responsibility of the WCED, she pointed out.

“The WCED drafted a response to Equal Education which has not yet been sent by the department at the time of the protest today. Their demand of two weeks was simply not possible or reasonable, given the disorderly documents provided to us which had to be individually collated and captured, as well as the huge amount of work the districts have to do every day.

“If Equal Education wanted me to respond, why did they address the ‘report’ to the district directors, and why have they to date still failed to furnish me directly with a copy?  They clearly know my email address – which is used by them on a frequent basis, to which we respond at length on various issues.”

Schäfer said she did not collect the group’s memorandum not because she was fearful of the pupils “but because I will not allow a dangerous precedent to be set that people can feel entitled to march illegally to my home”.

“The learners are more than welcome to meet with me at my office at a mutually convenient time if they wish to engage constructively in a genuine attempt to improve education in the Western Cape.”

Police spokesperson Andre Traut confirmed officers monitored the picket on Thursday morning.
“The small group of protesters dispersed peacefully at around 08:35,” he said.

No one was arrested.

Read more on:    equal education  |  cape town  |  education

Inside News24


Matric Results are coming soon!

Notify me when results become available

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.