Teachers want out

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Qantayi Secondary School, in Port Dunford, near Richards Bay on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, has been temporarily closed.

This comes after 23 of the school's 25 teachers refused to return to their classrooms. They have asked for immediate transfers because they fear for their safety.

The school of 800 pupils made headlines two weeks ago when pupils went on the rampage and vandalised classrooms and teachers' cars. Several teachers were assaulted by pupils.

A meeting between teachers, teachers' unions, the school governing body, the police and the education authorities ended in deadlock on Monday night.

Teachers and their unions said that, for as long as their safety was not guaranteed, the teachers would not return to the school.

Another meeting, on Sunday, also failed to yield results.

Musa Gumede, a spokesman for the National Teachers' Union, blamed the provincial Department of Education for the situation.

"They failed to come up with a solution when they could," he said.

"We have been asking them to provide a safety plan but they did not do so and now our members have sent letters [applying for jobs at] schools where their jobs and lives will be valued," he said.

Gumede said the situation was so bad that one pupil had stabbed his father during the rioting at the school.

"If a child cannot respect his own father, how is he going to respect educators?" he asked.

Gumede said he hoped that the decision by the teachers to ask for transfers would be a lesson to the education authorities. He said other schools had been warned not to accept pupils from Qantayi.

Pupils have expressed their concern over the situation.

Matriculant Hloni Dube said: "I am worried. This means that we will not write our exams and this is not good."

KwaZulu-Natal education spokesman Ntokozo Maphisa said education MEC Ina Cronje was personally attending to the matter.

"She is due to meet all the parties urgently," said Maphisa.