Newzroom Afrika presenter Gugulethu Mhlungu reached out to Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Thursday morning to ask whether the department is aware of how two pupils were “chased away” from Makhoarane Primary in Dobsonville, Soweto, reportedly because “their unemployed mother couldn’t buy them shoes”.
This follows a story in The Star on Thursday morning that a 10 and 12-year-old boy were “thrown” out of school by the principle for wearing takkies, subsequently missing their Grade 5 and Grade 6 exams.
The publication reports that 41-year-old Sharon Bill is an unemployed single mother raising the two children as well as four others, who says she can’t afford the shoes and had a plan to buy new school shoes, telling the children to wear the takkies in the meanwhile as their school shoes were worn.
The article makes it clear that the Gauteng department of education is aware of the situation, and has launched an investigation, with spokesperson Steve Mabona saying the family has been engaged with and that a plan has been made to get them back to school. They will be given an opportunity to write the missed exams.
Mhlungu’s tweet had gained significant traction by the time of publication, including a retweet from Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema.
There’s a story in The Star about how a principal chased away two primary school pupils at Makhoarane Primary for wearing takkies because their unemployed mother couldn’t buy them shoes. They missed two exams as a result. @lesufi does the department know about this?
— Gugulethu Mhlungu (@GugsM) November 7, 2019
Some of those who reacted expressed the view that the story was “shocking” and “sad”.
Not everyone was sympathetic however, with several users questioning why the mother could afford to buy takkies, which may have been a similar price or more expensive than the school shoes.
It is explained in the article that the mother had sent the children to school with takkies she bought in December last year and was in the process of trying to acquire the funds to buy them new school shoes.
@Julius_S_Malema This is so sad man, why cant people/teachers use discretion in these circumstances. The kids are willing to come to school to learn and write exams. Does it matter that they wearing takkies? No it does not. School clothes are so expensive.
— Joshwin Maharaj ???????? (@josh333_gp) November 7, 2019
This is so shocking. I could discern the pain in your voice this morning when you explained why this is completely wrong, especially when you said in excluding these kids we carry on like we don't want to accept that we are a 'majority poor' country. Unacceptable.
— Maruping Phepheng (@MP_Author) November 7, 2019
I Just read the story so sad cause she was planning to buy the shoes end of November and they only started wearing the takkies last week. So unreasonable ????????
— Itumeleng Molefe_Nabe (@Miss_TumiMolefe) November 7, 2019
I’m a teacher at a high school and sometimes the kids who “don’t have money for school shoes” wear nike and adidas takkies while they own fancy phones ????
— BANTU BIKO (@SiyandaSinci) November 7, 2019
Do you even know how much school shoes are? And they didn't say what takkies the kids wore… It could have been the cheap kind or even takkies donated to them.
— Mona Ngiba (@NgibaMona) November 7, 2019
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)