Department sends 'clean up team' to troubled Glenvista school

Lackadaisical SGB blamed for Glenvista High pupils' unruly behaviour

Noxolo Sibiya Journalist
Glenvista High School in Johannesburg where violence by pupils has been escalating recently acccording to parents.
Glenvista High School in Johannesburg where violence by pupils has been escalating recently acccording to parents.

A team from the Gauteng department of education has been deployed to troubled Glenvista High School in Johannesburg to quell incidents of violence which include waterboarding of pupils by their peers.

The team, which includes officials from MEC Matome Chiloane's office, has been tasked with dealing with fights breaking out between pupils, and learners attacking teachers, general staff and parents who intervene to stop the violence.

The team will also probe the school governing body's (SGB) failure to implement policies that deal with pupils' ill-discipline.

National Association of School Governing Bodies' spokesperson Matakanye Matakanya said SGBs were key to enforcing the school's code of conduct, but some were failing to do so, worsening discipline problems in schools.

This was found to be the contributing factors to violence at Glenvista, with Johannesburg South district director Vincent Ndhlovu telling parents in a meeting that the SGB at Glenvista was not active in enforcing policies through disciplinary committees.

The school was thrust into the spotlight recently after a classroom fight between a grade 9 pupil and a teacher went viral on social media.

The video shows pandemonium in one of the classrooms  with the two exchanging blows.

At the parents meeting held last week to discuss violence at the school, speaker after speaker painted a grim picture of what was going on at the school – from violent fights among learners to defiance of teachers..

A parent said there were incidents of waterboarding reported at the school which

Stakeholder relations officer in Chiloane's office Mbulelo Gwebani said they were investigating.

"We are aware of incidents where learners pour water on others... We are coming for them [perpetrators]. If you are a parent of an unruly child [and] when we have called you here, you will be going back [home] with your child," he said.

Gwebani said general staff was not spared as in one of the cases being probed, a groundsman was manhandled by a pupil.

He said a parent was assaulted while trying to defuse a fight between pupils outside the school gate.

Gwebani said he and his team were on a mission to clean up the school and have identified some 15 pupils for unruly behaviour.

"The learner who manhandled a groundsman, today he is out of the school. I am going to be here until what needs to be done is done. Five percent of learners here corrupt the 95% of learners."

Principal Thabile Morgan told attendees that the school was battling an outbreak of fights which were mainly caused by a small group of pupils who were tormenting the entire school and community.

"As and when they are given an instruction, they want to do their own things. They will question why they have to do things... Defiance is rife. [There's] bullying. We are not here to breed criminals. We are here to educate future statesmen."

Ndhlovu shared how two weeks ago, he had been called in following a gang fight involving about 21 pupils.

"Some learners were not in class during the register period and we were asking learners to get into class and the behavior we got... 'Who are you?' [the learners asked]. Some girls would just scream and cause commotion to ensure that the school does not go on," he said.

"I approached some boys and asked them to move... Just [by] touching the boy on here [arm], he was ready to fight me. He told me not to touch him. I had to beg them to move, otherwise it was going to be a big fight if I had persisted with the same energy.

"This incident embarrassed me in the presence of the deputy director general and a team of all curriculum experts in the province."

Matakanya said SGBs had powers to implement policies and enforce them.

"They have the powers to make recommendations based on the schedule of the offence, whether a child should be expelled. These processes are started by the SGB and presented to the school management who can either approve or disapprove. If parents are not happy with the SGB's decision, they can appeal to the department of education.

Ndhlovu said there were allegations that some SGB members had misused funds while others were not eligible to sit on the body. 

"We have asked some of them to submit certain documents. Failure to do so, they will be removed. Some of them, we are told, have rented a child [in the school] just so they can sit on the SGB.

We are still investigating some of these allegations. The SGB has the responsibility to enforce rules aligned with the policies of the department and the constitution of the Republic. If needs be, a new SGB will be re-elected," said Ndhlovu.

Gwebani said the school's code of conduct would be adjusted to ensure a safe teaching and learning environment.

"We will be resolving the issue of the SGB next week. There is no SGB in this school because they are nowhere to be found. We will do their work," Gwebani said.

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