21 February 2019

South Africa: School Children Block Road to Alice

Five weeks into the school year and some classes have not started at Kuyasa Senior Secondary

On Wednesday, learners from Kuyasa Senior Secondary School blocked the R63 between King William's Town and Alice during a six-hour demonstration. The students were protesting against a shortage of teachers, with four posts unfilled at the school.

The students barricaded the road with stones and burning tyres. Police spokesperson Captain Siphokazi Mawisa said there were no arrests and no damage was reported.

It is five weeks into the academic year, but classes at Kuyasa have not started in various grades for Geography, isiXhosa, Life Orientation, Business Studies and Art and Culture.

Learners from two neighbouring schools joined: Richard Vaga High School, which is also short of teachers, and Dimbaza Central, which is holding classes at Kwasa Primary with five grades occupying two blocks.

On Thursday, Kuyasa came to a standstill again after the principal held a meeting with students and parents at 8am. The principal introduced only one new teacher. Learners started singing and refused to listen any further.

Head of Equal Education in the Eastern Cape, Amanda Rinquest, said, "There is a problem with the shortage of teachers in the Eastern Cape and there are different causes for this; teachers are not willing to move to other areas where their services are needed; other schools are technical or agricultural schools that need specialised subjects."

The headmaster told learners he had applied for more teachers in October 2018 and has not received a response.

Provincial spokesperson for the department Malibongwe Mtima said, "On Tuesday the principal received two approved transfer letters of teachers who will start soon at the school. The district has submitted to Human Resources so that the other two posts appear in the next bulletin."

He said in the meantime they would seek to employ temporary teachers.

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