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Girl in suicide bid 'after failing'

A GRANDMOTHER yesterday recounted the pain she felt when her granddaughter tried to kill herself after she was told to go back one grade in school.

The 16-year-old Senaoane High School pupil in Soweto was one of 69 who were told to go back one grade - two months into the new school year.

The girl and her grandmother cannot be named as she is a minor.

"How can the department do this? Last December the school gave us a report indicating that she had passed. She recently came home from school and gave me a letter that she had to repeat Grade 10.

"Why did it take them so long to tell us that? She did not take the news well and overdosed on my anti-depressants.

"Her four-year-old sister found her just in time and we were able to save her. What hurts most is that she is not the only child at the school who tried to kill herself over this," the grandmother said.

The Gauteng department of education told the pupils that the letters of demotion were issued before school's closed for the first quarter.

Yesterday, parents camped outside the school demanding answers from the department.

According to the department 56 pupils are wrongly in Grade 11 and had to go back to grade 10. Thirteen were wrongly in Grade 10 and should be in Grade 11.

Four pupils have to be in grade 12 and 43 have to go back to Grade 11.

The deputy chairperson of the school governing body, Nomawethu Dlamsha, said: "We had an education summit at the weekend. The department told us it cared about the education of our children but what is happening proves the opposite.

"Barbara Creecy must come here and see what is happening."

Principal Oupa Tsotetsi, who had applied for early retirement from May 31 because of ill-health, was also told not to report to school when it reopened yesterday. He has been principal at the school for 25 years.

In a letter to the department, Tsotetsi asked to serve his last month as agreed. Instead, they sent a replacement principal. But parents did not let him enter the school.

Gauteng education spokesperson Charles Phahlane said: "We sympathise with the parents but what matters is that in the long run they must feel that their children's results have integrity.

"If we pass learners regardless of the process, then end-of-year results will have no integrity. We are implementing policy in demoting learners who were passed illegally and are taking action against educators who passed learners illegally."