Roseville Secondary in Umzinto, KwaZulu-Natal, was thrust into the spotlight last week when scores of pupils refused to attend class, citing grievances with the school’s administration and other internal issues, reports the South Coast Herald.
According to Scottburgh police, the Umzinto SAPS Visible Policing Commander, Captain Leven Chetty, and his team were dispatched to the school on Tuesday last week following reports of a protest.
A source who spoke to the Mail on condition of anonymity said the pupils were upset over rumours that the current acting principal was to be replaced by a ‘non-African’ individual.
Matric pupils are also believed to have demanded a matric dance.
Other demands from the pupils included a designated smoking area and the appointment of more Zulu-speaking teachers.
The following day, senior officials from the department of education convened a meeting at the nearby Schola Amoris school to discuss issues relating to Roseville Secondary.
“The meeting was disrupted by approximately 400 pupils from Roseville Secondary, who also blocked the entrance to the school with trees and logs. The pupils were dispersed by police,” said Scottburgh SAPS communications officer Captain Adam Francis.
Roseville Secondary was contacted for comment but no response had been received at the time of going to print.
Parents, officials from the Ugu District department of education, representatives from the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union and the mayor of Umdoni Municipality Thabani Dube met at the school last Sunday in an attempt to resolve the issues raised.
One parent, fearful for her child’s safety, told the Mail that she was worried.
“We are concerned about the education and safety of pupils. There are those who want to go to school and continue preparing for the upcoming exams,” she said.
“What the protesting pupils don’t realise is that they are toying with everyone’s future, not just their own.”
She added that she had seen several videos online which showed pupils taking part in the protest action carrying sticks and setting tyres alight.
“I personally feel Sunday’s meeting was a waste of time,” she added.
“The children involved were not ready to listen to anything the speakers had to say. It appeared the solutions offered were not good enough.
“We were assured there would be no disruption of learning on the Monday, but being concerned for the safety of my child, I opted not to send her to school.
“I’m glad I did as, when I was heading to work on Monday, I saw pupils were protesting yet again.”
When approached for comment, Umdoni Municipality’s communications officer Sphelele Cele responded, saying the meeting on Sunday had resolved that the acting principal would remain at work while the department of education “conducts an investigation into the veracity of the allegations”.
She added that these investigations would be conducted over a four-week period, and thereafter the department would report back to pupils and parents on recommendations and a way forward.
The mayor had, she said, urged all parties to “take responsibility and do their part in ensuring such unwarranted disturbance of education does not happen again”.
However, on Tuesday classes were again suspended due to fresh protests.
Police were dispatched to the school but left shortly thereafter as pupils could be heard shouting and ordering them to leave.