school dodgers

THE level of absenteeism in Limpopo schools in the first week of the third quarter of the school calendar is alarming, with more than 3000 pupils still roaming the streets.

A school governing bodies official said yesterday that the majority of those who did not report to school were initiates who graduated from circumcision (Koma) schools.

School governing bodies provincial chairperson Hitler Morwatshehla said there were 62 Koma schools in the province.

Morwatshehla said school governing bodies had been concerned that there was a poor turnout of pupils in several schools and the majority of those absent were newly graduated initiates from circumcision schools.

"The schools had an enrolment of about 5500 initiates and only an estimated 2000 of them reported to school on Tuesday.

"It is not clear why they failed to pitch up for their lessons," Morwatshehla said.

The mother of Nthangwe Malapane in Matipane village in the Modjadjiskloof area, whose son was one of the graduates, said he had told her that it was standard procedure for all graduates to stay at home for a week after the graduation.

"He said this would give them time to heal their wounds properly since most of them were still hurting after the circumcisions," she said.

"He said they were advised by their Koma school principals to stay at home because if they attended their sideways movements would attract attention."

Sasekane Ndlovu of Mandlangazi village in the N'wamitwa area, whose son was supposed to have gone to Makhanya Secondary School on Tuesday, said her son had changed since his return from initiation. Ndlovu said her son spent two nights out in a tavern with notorious guys in the village who smoke marijuana.

"I am not sure whether he also smokes because when he went there he was a teetotaller and did not smoke. I thought Koma were places where children are taught about humanity and discipline, but it seems I was lying to myself."

But other children have returned to school. Vincent Raolane of Bokhuta village outside Tzaneen reported to Mapula Primary School on the first day.

Wisani Netshimbufhe, chairperson of the Limpopo Task Team on Koma schools, said the team was not aware that some children had not reported for school.

"We had an undertaking with all school principals and surgeons that all Koma schools must be closed on July 10 in an effort to give our children a chance to go back to school.

"We are not sure if all the schools closed."