'We won't burn our schools' - PE parents

2016-05-11 14:37
Tyres burn during protests over school closures in Port Elizabeth. (News24 Correspondent)

Tyres burn during protests over school closures in Port Elizabeth. (News24 Correspondent)

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Port Elizabeth – Despite frustration of a lack of teachers at some Northern Areas schools, parents have rejected the option of setting fire to them to get the attention of the government.

"Some residents feel that what happened in Limpopo is the only message the government understands," Northern Areas Education Forum leader Richard Draai told News24 on Wednesday.

He was referring to suggestions made at a parents' meeting held last week.

"But this option was quickly thrown out because we don’t want our schools burned. We need to calm the community, but the frustration and anger is building up again and our job is to ensure that there is calm. We will protect our schools," he said.

Parents wanted more than 78 teachers appointed to critical posts, a ratio of one teacher to 30 pupils, and control over each school's budget.

He said the education department was moving at a snail’s pace in addressing their concerns. One school, Sanctor Primary, had a shortage of nine teachers, and parents were frustrated.

Draai said the forum was arranging a meeting with teachers’ unions and school governing bodies, in a bid to calm parents.

Over 50 schools closed

During violent protests against teacher shortages in the Northern Areas earlier this year, parents closed over 50 schools. They were reopened three weeks later.

Draai said that during last week’s meeting, a mother reported that her child was sitting in class with no teacher all day. He said money was running out to pay teachers.

"The funds of schools are running dry and some won’t be able to pay educators in the very near future. To help themselves some classes will be split up and added to others, forming bigger classes," he said.

Port Elizabeth education district director Nyathi Ntsiko said many Eastern Cape schools were in a similar situation to those in the Northern Areas.

The department had provided support staff to some schools in the area to try and remedy the situation. He said he was unaware of any frustration from residents.

"I am sure after these planned meeting we will hear from the community, but for now we will wait to hear from parents," he said. 

Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  education  |  protests

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