After a stalemate with the education department, parents in one of Gauteng’s high-pressure districts are breathing a sigh of relief because their children will begin high school on Monday.
In another region, some parents do not know where their children would be sent, while others attend school on a rotational basis once every week.
In some regions, tensions are escalating because private and public schools share school grounds, despite the department’s efforts to accommodate all children.
Following a meeting with Gauteng education MEC Matome Chiloane, 170 parents who denied placement at a satellite school registered as New Kempton Park Secondary in the Ekurhuleni North District were finally placed at the Dowerglen High School in Edenvale.
The parents rejected the placement of their children at New Kempton Park Secondary School, which is located on the same grounds as the private EASTC Technical School, citing the prevalence of prostitution and drug dealing in the neighborhood.
This year, EASTC Technical School, which is managed by Ekurhuleni Artisans and Skills Training Centre, began with little under 200 students in grades R to 8. When the Sunday World visited the school this week, the principal, Sheunesu Nyika, stated that the aim was to increase the grades as this year’s incoming students advanced to higher grades.
On the site of the New Kempton Park Secondary School, construction is currently proceeding. Separated by a metre-tall mesh fence, the school’s prefabricated structures are identical to those of the private school.
Parents of the 395 unplaced students were persuaded by the Gauteng department of education to accept placement at New Kempton Park Secondary School.
“Regrettably, despite our department’s concerted effort, the parents of the unplaced students in Kempton Park have expressed safety concerns about the area surrounding this satellite school and are therefore refusing this placement. However, contacts with the parents will continue in a meeting with the MEC scheduled for January 31, according to a statement from department spokesperson Steve Mabona.
Approximately 117 parents told Chiloane at the meeting, which was held at the adjacent Kreft Primary School, that they would rather have their children placed in mobile classrooms at other schools than accept the offer at the new school.
“Our children are adolescents in a poisonous atmosphere. I was offered free medicines. Even though I am an adult, they had the arrogance to offer me medicines to try. Our children will be exposed to this environment,” remarked a parent who wished to remain anonymous for fear that her child will be victimized.
She stated that Chiloane informed them at the meeting that the department could not get mobile classes.
Another parent who attended the meeting with the MEC but declined to give their identity stated that they would let their children to attend other established schools in the area on a rotating basis.
“The region is the center of prostitution and drug trafficking. I was surprised to see approximately 200 girls roaming the grounds. There are drug sellers in every direction. He stated that our children will not be safe.
We have a concern with the surrounding environment, not with the satellite school. The MEC arrived with a security convoy, but we cannot afford that for our children,” he said.
Thursday, Mpoku Tau of the Gauteng department of education informed parents that their children would be attending Dowerglen High School in Edenvale and that the department would provide transportation.
“I’m glad it didn’t come to a point where we would have been forced to protest,” she said.
“A total of 170 parents have been assigned to Dowerglen. Birchleigh, Birch Acres, Norkem Park, Terenure, Edleen, Van Riebeck Park, and Kempton Park West are our hometowns. This weekend, as parents, we will help the department determine where our children will be picked up.
Tomorrow, my child will finally begin high school. While his pals discussed their new schools, he was not coping with his absence from school.
In the Tshwane West District, parents continued to inquire about placements at Amandasig Secondary School. According to the department of education, 176 Grade 8 students in the Pretoria North district were yet to be placed.
“47 learners have been placed at Amandasig Secondary School and are currently attending classes on a rotational basis,” Mabona said earlier in the week. “This remainder is a result of the initial 223 unplaced learners in our district.”
Sunday World learned from parents and student transportation companies that some unplaced youngsters attend school once every week.
“We do not even know if they will be accommodated at this school or in an another school or neighborhood. A parent whose child is from Soshanguve remarked that it was frustrating.
The department stated that the students would be enrolled in North Park Secondary School’s satellite campus. However, the parents with whom Sunday World spoke were unaware of the school’s location.
In the Johannesburg West District, the department has enrolled 396 students at Robinhood College, a satellite school located in Maraisburg, Roodepoort.
The same building also houses Robin Hood Academy, a private school with approximately 200 students.
Lucken Maniram, the principal of the private school, has verified that they are renting their portion of the school, which was formerly the Crown Christian School, from Grace Bible Church.
Concerned parents have already expressed their displeasure with the public school being located on the same campus, according to him.
Mabona did not respond to sent queries. He pointed the Sunday World to the department’s Monday statement.
»Parents reject schools where violence and prostitution are rampant«