'The future of my child has gone down the drain' - parents rocked by school's sudden closure

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Eudoxia Mzizi has worked as a secretary at Bishop Bavin for almost 23 years before the school abruptly announced its closure.
Eudoxia Mzizi has worked as a secretary at Bishop Bavin for almost 23 years before the school abruptly announced its closure.
Azarrah Karrim
  • Parents, pupils and staff of Bishop Bavin School in Johannesburg, demonstrated against the school's decision to close down.
  • They claim the school did not provide any notice of its decision.
  • News24 spoke to staff, parents and pupils who say they are worried about their future.

Glenrose Sidu has worked in the kitchens of Bishop Bavin School, a private institution in Johannesburg, for the past 21 years.

Her 16-year-old son Loyiso had a scholarship to attend the school but now, she says: "The future of my child has just gone down the drain".

Staff, parents and pupils have been left in the dark after the school announced it would close its doors, seemingly for financial reasons.

On an icy Friday morning in near zero-degree weather, they staged a peaceful demonstration outside the school to protest against the announcement, calling on the education department to intervene.

As a parent and staff member, Sidu told News24 they were not given any time to try make other arrangements.

"We were told last week Thursday that our job is finished after 21 years of serving the school.

"The worst part is they did not give us time to look for alternative schools because my son got a scholarship for five years but now he is sitting at home and doing nothing.

"I can' t find another school for him because I am currently unemployed," Sidu said.

"How am I going to fend for my family now?"

According to Sidu, they were told to return last week and started preparing the school for pupils' arrival.

"On Thursday morning they told us it was all over, within 24 hours of coming back to school," Sidu said.

She added that she had "no idea" what she and her son would do.

"That' s why I am here today, to raise concern because even the MEC for Education should step in," Sidu said.

She added that she doubted her son would get another scholarship because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But even if he was accepted at another school, Sidu would not be able to pay because she was now unemployed.

She would like the school to reopen because, she said, they had nothing to do with the "unaccountable money that went missing". She added:

They should hold accountable the person who [spent] the money, not us. Why are we paying for other people's sins?

Eudoxia Mzizi, a secretary who worked at the school for almost 23 years and whose son also attended the school in Grade 9, said they had not received any financial compensation following the closure.

"Right now, I am left with no school for my son because we are not getting severance packages apparently. They say the school is broke," she told News24 through the tears.

"I have no plan for my son… I don' t know where to take him. I have no money," she added.

Mzizi lives on the school property and was told she needed to vacate her room within three months.

"The only reason I could afford to have my son here was because I work here and I have a room here on the property. Otherwise, I have no plan to take him to any other school – private or otherwise," she said.

Even if he was accepted at another school, Mzizi said she had no money for uniforms or books

"We don' t even have food. We rely on parents to bring us food parcels here. That's how we survive at the moment, because for two months we haven' t been getting paid and we were just told we were not getting paid for June as well."

She also called on the Education MEC and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to intervene.

"I know Ms Motshekga has a special place for Bishop Bavin in her heart. Can she please intervene on our behalf?”

"We are really just pleading; we are on our knees. We just need to breathe, we can't breathe at the moment," she said as she cried.

Drivers, ground staff and teachers at the school have been similarly affected.

A teacher protests against the closing of Bishop B
A teacher protests against the closing of Bishop Bavin school in Johannesburg.
Jimmy, a driver for the school, protests against t
Jimmy, a driver for the school, protests against the closing of Bishop Bavin.
A teacher protests against the closing of Bishop B
A teacher protests against the closing of Bishop Bavin school in Johannesburg. (Azarrah Karrim)
Glenrose, a staff and parent at Bishop Bavin, says
Glenrose, a staff and parent at Bishop Bavin, says she does not know what will happen to her or her son. (Azarrah Karrim)

Bongaza Dlamini, 13, has attended Bishop Bavin for eight years and called the closure an "injustice".

"I was at school the day we found out it was closing down, and nobody notified us – this was grossly done.

"There are so many people in uncomfortable positions … there is just so much injustice and that's why I'm here today," Dlamini said.

Dlamini added that she and her mother were still figuring out a way forward.

"There is no plan really. I've written one entrance exam and I'm just worried because I've been in online classes for the last few months [because of] Covid-19 and I haven't really learned anything and the day I do go to school, I find out it is shutting down.

"I'd just like to say there is hope for us to reopen and I feel that people have so unjustly closed our school. People need to be brought to justice and when something is wrong, you have to make it right.

"Those people who brought such injustice to our school, I'd like to see them in a courtroom," Dlamini said.

The school has not responded to News24's request for comment.

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