Parents lose hope at troubled primary school

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

Parents of troubled Mandlakayise Primary School pupils in Inanda, Durban, are losing hope of ever seeing their children going back to school after more than a month of no classes.

The situation remains tense, with only a few teachers coming to school. Twenty other teachers abandoned classes - saying they feared for their own safety.

The "striking" teachers say they are afraid of teaching at the school and are still shocked after the attack on their principal, who was shot 14 times last week.

No learning has taken place at the school since principal Frances Mthembu was shot.

Mthembu is recovering in hospital after an unknown man shot her at her home in KwaMashu. Her attacker left her for dead, lying in a pool of blood.

Attempts to end the chaos at the school reached a dead end when a meeting called by the school governing body on Sunday could not come up an amicable solution.

Only 65 parents attended the meeting - at a school with more than 1500 learners.

The governing body took a decision not to continue with the meeting, saying the parents who turned up were not in a position to decide on such a thorny issue.

The few teachers that are not part of the strike say they are terrified to go back to class after Mthembu was shot.

Most parents are also keeping their children at home.

"Our children are missing out on school work," said one parent who did not want to be named. "Almost two months have already been wasted."

The parent said they were blaming the Department of Education for not taking the problems at the school seriously.

She said the Department of Education should be hands-on in the running of schools instead of giving too much power to the principals.

"Principals are running schools as if they are their households. As such, teachers are treated like children and are victimised," said the concerned parent.

She said department officials should visit schools more often to become aware of what is going on.

The police yesterday said no one had been arrested in connection with the attack on Mthembu but they are not ruling out the possibility that the attack might be related to the problems at the school.

The parents' meeting will be scheduled for another day and parents are urged to attend in numbers so that a way forward can be found.