High schoolers must wait for primary school pupils to leave before they can learn

Community leaders and pupils met at Nalikamva Primary School after protests on Tuesday to discuss the tense situation.
Community leaders and pupils met at Nalikamva Primary School after protests on Tuesday to discuss the tense situation.
Image: Vincent Lali / GroundUP

Angry pupils from Fairdale High School disrupted learning in other high schools in Mfuleni on Tuesday, demanding that the Western Cape education department move them to a nearby school.

GroundUp reported that the Fairdale High pupils share the Nalikamva Primary School premises with lower-school pupils. They attend classes from midday, after the primary school pupils have left.

Manelisi Magadla, a cleaner at Mfuleni High School, said the Fairdale pupils had marched there on Tuesday. They forced open a gate and told Mfuleni High pupils to leave their classrooms and join them, he said.

Magadla said the school principal had cautioned pupils at assembly against participating in the protest, but some had ignored him and joined the demonstration.

Qhama Mlonyeni, chair of the Learner Representative Council (LRC) at Fairdale, said the pupils wanted to move into a new, prefab school in nearby Silversands and attend classes in the mornings. Moving into the new school would enable them to spend more time in the classrooms and catch up with their school work.

“We will engage in sport, enter school competitions and have school choirs,” she said.

LRC member Ntombenkosi Siyothula said: “Because we attend classes for a few hours, we are behind with our school work.”

Siyothula said Fairdale High School pupils are supposed to be busy with fourth-term work, but are still battling with third-term projects.

Mfuleni SA National Civic Organisation leader Zingisile Ndamase said the department had promised the school would be ready by October.

“Student leaders have made a decision to shut down schools until the department opens their new school in Silversands. We as community leaders and parents fully support them,” said Ndamase.

Addressing the pupils, Ndamase said: “Now that the protest has made an impact, we want you to go back to your classrooms.”

Spokesperson for the Western Cape education department, Bronagh Hammond, said “disruption of schooling is totally unacceptable”.

She said the new Fairdale High School was ready, but residents of Silversands were preventing Mfuleni pupils from using it. The department had asked councillors to convince Silversands residents to allow the pupils to move into the school, she said.

Western Cape SAPS spokesperson Siyabulela Malo said the police had opened a case of public violence against the pupils.

“It has been reported that these learners were throwing stones at the passing vehicles and also at a police vehicle,” he said.

— This article was originally published by GroundUp.

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