Hello, press here to lie for your child

The following is the message that the staff at Masisebenze and Masiqhakaze high schools in Tembisa, Kempton Park, voted unanimously to record on their schools' telephone answering machines.

This came about after they implemented a policy requiring parents to be responsible for their children's abseteeism, pregnancies and failing to do their homework.

The schools and teachers are now being sued by parents and student organisation Cosas, who want their children and members' failing grades to be changed to passing grades - even though those children were absent for 15 to 30 school days during the semester, or term, and did not complete enough school work to pass their classes.

This was because they had either gone to collect their children's government grants or to the clinic for check-ups.

The outgoing message:

"Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of your school.

In order to assist you in connecting to the right staff member, please listen to all the options before making a selection:

l To lie about why your child is absent, press 1.

l To make excuses for why your child did not do his/her work, press 2.

l To complain about what we do, press 3.

l To swear at staff members, press 4.

l To ask why you did not get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you, press 5.

l If you want us to raise your child, press 6.

l If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone, press 7.

l To request another teacher, for the third time this year, press 8.

l To complain about bus transportation, press 9.

l To complain about school lunches, press 0.

l If you realise this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behaviour, class work, homework and that it's not the teachers' fault for your child's lack of effort: Hang up and have a nice day!

l If you want this in Spanish, you must be in the wrong country."