Parents of children attending Oakdale Secondary School in Ennerdale, in Johannesburg, only allowed Grade 12 pupils to enter the school premises on Tuesday.
This is despite threats from Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi that the school would be shut down if teaching and learning did not resume on April 23.
On Tuesday, parents met at the school and agreed that matric pupils could continue with classes. They said a plan was being worked on to ensure Grade 8 to Grade 11 pupils were not left behind.
A large number of pupils were seen hanging around on the school grounds, while others roamed the streets.
Last week, five people – including ward councillor Danny Netnow – were arrested after parents took to the streets, demanding a new school. A classroom was set alight during the protests.
Lesufi promised that a budget to replace the school had been approved.
“It is disappointing that we must resort to drastic measures for our children to be afforded (their) deserved education. However, we hope the community will yield to our call and allow children to go back to school,” said Lesufi last week.
Parents are demanding that mobile container classrooms be removed, and be replaced with brick classrooms.
Dangerous and risky
“These containers are dangerous and risky to us as teachers too. Criminals have taken over the school. They steal everything they can get. At times, they come during school hours to rob us and learners. We are not safe here.
“Some of the criminals sleep in the school and leave in the morning. They don’t care and are heartless. They are not afraid to take anything they want, whether at night or in broad daylight. They deliberately leave their excrement in our classrooms daily,” complained an employee.
He added that the school needed a new building that was safe for everyone.
“When it rains, we don’t allow our pupils to enter those containers because water seeps through windows, doors and roofs. This place is hazardous, and a quick permanent solution is needed,” he added.
Not prioritising the school
Spokesperson of the school’s steering committee, Wendy Mntambo, said Lesufi was not prioritising the school and they were taking their demands directly to him to ensure they were met.
“We have been told that the department will provide four new mobile containers this week. We don’t want those containers, we want a new school. Maybe Lesufi is waiting for a pupil to die in those uninhabitable containers before he acts. The district has told us to focus on Grade 12 only, which we think that maybe according to them the school only caters for Grade 12s.
“Our Grade 8 to 11 are being affected and a catch-up plan will be implemented to ensure that they are not left behind. Teachers have promised that more hard work will be implemented to ensure that our Grade 8 to 11 pupils pass their examinations. We are going forward to ensure both Lesufi and Minister Angie Motshekga act swiftly,” said Mntambo.
She added that Lesufi had promised that R25m had been secured to build a new school.
“Instead of building the school, he resorts to threatening us. He is very quick to threaten people, than to provide us with resources,” said Mntambo.
Gauteng Department of Education spokesperson Steve Mabona said officials would first visit the school, and then draft a report that would be handed to Lesufi, before a decision on whether to close the school is taken.