Angry parents close Mfuleni school

| Nombulelo Damba
Parents at a new school in Mfuleni have accused the principal of manufacturing marks. Photo by Masixole Feni.

About 40 Mfuleni parents closed down the New Parliament Street Primary School on Tuesday, demanding that the principal leave the school and withdraw their children.

These are the parents of the students who once studied in a small tent in Mfuleni, after their children were turned away from other schools in the area which were full.

Angry parents barged into the school at about 13h00, just after classes had started. They ordered teachers to stop lessons, taking their children away from the school.

“No learning will happen today until we get answers” they said.

Protesting parents accused the school principal, Noxolo Sibayi, of giving students high marks in subjects that were not even taught at the school and hiring people they did not know to clean the school and cook for the pupils.

They told GroundUp that Sibayi did not consult the school acting governing body and refused to work with parents. The parents said they had reported problems to the WCED and the WCED had promised to investigate. But weeks later they had not heard anything.

Sibayi’s office referred GroundUp to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).

Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for Education MEC Debbie Schafer, said the department was investigating claims that students had been given marks in subjects which were not taught at the school.

Vuyelwa Ngxambuza, a mother of two, said the WCED had been to the school last month to investigate the matter and the parents had been proved correct.

“What we do not understand is why the WCED does not come back to us,” said Ngxambuza.

She said Sibayi was robbing students of a better education by giving them high marks for subjects they had not studied.

“This is very serious. You find a number of pupils getting a 100% pass rate in social science but when you look at their books, they only studied one lesson. Some subjects are not even started,” said Ngxambuza.

Another parent, Vuyelwa Ruga, told GroundUp that Sibayi had said she would only consult the WCED, not parents as she had not been hired by them.

“This woman does not take our children’s education very seriously,” said Ruga.

She said she was worried about her son who is in grade seven at the school. “Next year my son is going to high school. The other school will accept him thinking he’s clever, when all along he knows nothing,” she said.

Thobeka Mpanga, mother of a grade one learner, said the parents would continue with their protest until the WCED addressed them.

She said Mfuleni residents were supposed to benefit from job opportunities at the school.

“We fought for this school. It was us who went to the WCED and asked them to open another school for our children,” said Mpanga.

Shelver said: “ The WCED is exploring all available options to cater for the community’s education needs. We can confirm that our officials have engaged extensively with the community and where possible, have tried to accommodate the community demands. With regards to the appointment of teachers for the New Parliament Street PS, the community does not decide on who gets appointed or not.”

“The WCED followed the standard and correct procedures when appointing teaching posts,” said Shelver.

“Our curriculum advisers have visited the school and have commented that classes are neat and tidy, print rich, and the teachers are well prepared for their lesson. The community are preventing their very own children from receiving an education,” she said.

Shelver said any intimidation and violence against teachers or students would not be tolerated. She said the WCED had alerted the police.

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