Suspended teacher Barkhuizen set to return, principal and other teacher now in firing line – sources

Suspended teacher Barkhuizen set to return, principal and other teacher now in firing line – sources

Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke teacher Elana Barkhuizen during a press briefing with Trade Union Solidarity in Centurion at Forever Resort, 15 January 2019, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The move appears to be in relation to the fact that the ‘wrong teacher’ caught flak at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke.

A group of residents were on Wednesday trying to push their way into Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke in North West.

The group was standing outside the school’s main gates hurling insults at the security officers manning the gates.

“We want to get in, this is our school. There are many security officers in Schweizer-Reneke. Why do they hire people from Limpopo?” one woman shouted.

Some parents arrived at the school saying they received a notification to fetch their children. The children were reportedly kept at a safe house with their teachers.

North West education member of the executive council (MEC) Sello Lehari was holding a meeting with the school’s management.

Sources close to the education department said suspended teacher Elana Barkhuizen would be reinstated and the principal and another teacher would be suspended.

Yesterday suspended teacher Elana Barkhuizen said she would fight to clear her name.

“I will not be told what my worth is by people who do not know me. I will embark on this journey. I will clear my name. I will take on these people with power and I shall win,”  she told reporters in Centurion, Pretoria.

“Last week my world changed. A photograph I took of a class full of happy, smiling children on their first day of school was used by opportunists against my children, against me, and against my school.”

Lehari suspended Barkhuizen with immediate effect on January 10 after a picture showing four black children seated separately from their white classmates in a Grade R class went viral.

Barkhuizen reportedly took the picture in another teacher’s classroom and sent it to a parents’ WhatsApp group intending to show how children had settled in class on their first day at school.

Lehari said the school had explained that the children were separated because they could not speak English or Afrikaans. However, Barkhuizen was not the teacher who had allegedly separated the pupils.

Barkhuizen said she would stand up for herself, learners and for all teachers.

“My job is not politics, but teaching. My profession is love for children, just because they are children. I see how each of my learners explores a new world and I help them to master that new world. I see how small drooping shoulders transform into jubilation and smiles after a hug.

“I walk with them every step of the way each year – my heart breaks every year when I have to say goodbye to them – but I am proud to see they are ready for the next step, because that is what I do as a teacher, regardless of race or background. A teacher is the candle that lights children’s small flames, even if it means sacrifices have to be made,” she said.

Trade union Solidarity said it would serve court papers before the end of the week asking that her unlawful suspension be lifted as a matter of urgency. The union also said it was considering civil action following the investigations, which may include a libel claim.

The union said Barkhuizen was appointed by the school governing body, a fact that had been overlooked, and that Lehari acted outside his powers and that no correct procedures were followed to suspend her.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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