N10 blocked by school protest in Paterson


“We are going to protest in this way until they give us teachers and take our kids from learning under trees into classrooms”

Photo of protesters
Protest over a shortage of teachers and classrooms at Sandisulwazi Secondary School in Paterson closed the N10 freeway from 8am until 11am on Wednesday. Photo: Joseph Chirume

About 300 Eastern Cape learners, their parents and other community members protested on Wednesday over a shortage of classrooms and teachers at Sandisulwazi Secondary School in Paterson.

The protesters accused the Eastern Cape Department of Education of not honouring a commitment to provide teachers by the start of term. The problem of teacher shortages at the school began years ago.

The protesters left the school at 8am and walked 500 metres to the intersection of the N10 freeway and the R342, where they used burning tyres, concrete and other objects to block the roads.

Three hours later, police fired rubber bullets to disperse them. Traffic was backed up for kilometres on either side of the N10 freeway.

“We are going to protest in this way until they give us teachers and take our kids from learning under trees into classrooms,” said Lena Cupido, a parent at the school.

“This is a multi-racial school, but it’s only isiXhosa and English languages that have teachers. Afrikaans-speaking learners are always left out. This is not good for our children’s future. We had a teacher in Afrikaans at the end of last year whose contract was not renewed this term,” said Cupido.

Vuyisani Kamani, in grade 11, said, “I am protesting in solidarity with grades 8 to 10 who are learning under trees and do not have teachers.”

One of the protest leaders, who did not want to be identified, said, “Four classrooms were burned last year and the suspects were never apprehended. We engaged the department over the issue, but nothing concrete has materialised … We have a shortage of four teachers in Afrikaans language, Natural Sciences, Life Orientation and isiXhosa language. We also need someone who can teach Creative Arts.”

According to a staff member, the school has 410 learners and nine teachers. He said the department provided two temporary teachers last year for Afrikaans and Life Orientation but their contracts were not renewed. He said Sandisulwazi’s matric pass rate was 54.6% in 2018.

GroundUp is awaiting comment from Eastern Cape Department of Education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima.

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TOPICS:  Education

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