School Protests On the Rise in South Africa

More and more reports of school protests are now coming to light. From racism to security, protests seem to be on the rise.

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School protests are becoming more common around the country as learners and teachers call for equality and improvements within the schools.

On Monday, protests at the Witbank Technical High School in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, turned violent as parents of different races clashed. What caused this to happen?

A fight broke out between a black and a white student last week, after which the provincial education department intervened by visiting the school. However, it is said that did not do enough to address the accusations of racial abuse that some of the students claim to be routinely subjected to at the schools.  

It was also said that allegedly the black learner involved in the fight was suspended and the white learner was not. Parents of black learners have said that they just want fair treatment.

Mpumalanga Education MEC, Bonakele Majuba, said:

This is something that is unacceptable but it's something that we'll have to manage because we believe that all people, at this point in time, must accept that there has to be transformation and our schools have to be schools for everybody. 

These protests lead to classes being suspended for a week and things seem to have now settled down. This week will be used to further investigation racial allegations at the school.

In Eastern Cape, the community in Gqeberha protested to demand better security at James Jolobe High School. There have been robberies taking place at the school with one learner saying she had to choose between being robbed and being raped.

The school does not have a fence with teachers and the principal at the school saying they have asked the department to intervene. 

One learner who witnessed robberies said:

Well to be honest here, we're really not safe at our school because I mean, being robbed twice once a week so it's really not safe. We have trauma. In our class, we don't feel safe because we don't know what's gonna happen since this all happened.

She continued to say that without the fences, they don't really have education. Resources within the school were stolen as well.

In Gauteng, teaching was disrupted at the Ekurhuleni School for the Deaf as learners protested at the school with some burning tyres just outside the school. These disruptions began on Friday.

These learners are protesting overcontinuing issues involving food shortages, lack of hygiene, school governing bodies, the prinicipal and ill treatment at the school. 

The Gauteng Education Department sent some of it's officials to the school to investigate and calm the protests. Spokesperson for the Department, Steve Mabona, said:

We just want to make sure that we attend to all the concerns that were raised today in that disruption process. We have met with some of the parents and school management. Our district officials were there just to understand what issue were put on the table.

Discussions with the school principal are said to have seen no progress for the past two weeks. Protests began on Friday and were calmed down but continued on Monday.

Mabona said that some things raised were justified and could be managed better at the school.

One could only hope that this protest action invites change and that departments and school management keep their promises.

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