PARENTS who fail to place their children in school face arrest, warns Senzo Mchunu, KwaZulu-Natal's new MEC for education.

He says his administration will come down hard on parents who do not "take full responsibility" for their children's education.

"To see children walking the street or loitering during school hours is a very serious matter. We have to stop it."

He told residents of Inkande village in Nquthu this week that parents had a duty to ensure their children went to school. "I can't understand how parents relax at home with a child who is supposed to be at school."

Mchunu said that even if parents could not afford uniforms or school fees they should not allow their children to stay at home.

"Parents should speak to school-governing bodies and principals about their challenges."

He also warned parents to stop blaming teachers for failing to teach their children.

"Children must do their homework. Parents must visit schools regularly to check if their children arrived and also check whether they do their school work.

"It is also parents' responsibility to see that their children do not leave home carrying weapons."

Mchunu vowed to get tough with principals who did not follow the rules and treated pupils unfairly.

"Sometimes pupils are forced to go home during school hours to fetch their parents. We cannot allow such a situation. If principals do that they will face serious consequences."