16 June 2019

Botswana: Parents Want Pupils Transfered From Lempu Jss

Salajwe — Parents of Lempu Junior Secondary School (JSS) pupils who were on March attacked by mass hysteria have asked the Minister of Basic Education Mr Bagalatia Arone to transfer their children to other schools.

Currently, 141 pupils are absent from school because of the disease. These include 32 Form Three pupils.

Speaking during a stakeholder meeting led by Minister Arone and senior government officers on June 13, parents stated that the situation had gone beyond control, hence requests for pupils transfer.

Parents from Monwane, Sorilatholo, Khudumelapye, Malwelwe, Salajwe, Kaudwane and Maanege in the Letlhakeng Sub-district Council said there was no sign that the disease would be cured soon.

Ms Makgoa Ramathaola from Khudumelapye said some parents feared that their children might become disabled by the sickness since some of them were already blind, had numbness and could not walk properly.

She said her child had been attacked for the fourth time now and it seemed the disease was taking a toll on her.

Mr Kopano Tsietso said the best thing was to transfer their children to other schools while government was still searching for a solution.

Ms Gobotswamang Bosesane and Bonthaletse Kolonti said the disease had denied their children education since they spent time at home and missed on their teachings.

Kgosi Bokau Tobe called on churches to pray harder, adding that prayer was best weapon.

However, he said each church had own practice, hence the need for them to consider carrying out prayers one at a time at the school hostels.

In his response, Minister Arone said he would act swiftly to parents' pleas with advice from his team.

He said pupils, who were not well and were being taken care of at home would be allowed to come back and repeat their form three.

Minister Arone said in consultation with ministry officials, they would see what they could do with transfers and see how everything will work out especially for the affected pupils.

He, nevertheless, said transfers would not be an easy exercise because other schools were already full.

On the issue of transport, Mr Arone said the ministry would see how government could help parents.

He told parents that he had noted their concerns, adding that the ministry would see what to do because the situation had now gone beyond normal.

He asked parents to have faith and calm their children not to be afraid of anything even when at school.

Mr Arone said government would continue to offer psycho-social support and a team of doctors and counselors will be sent to school to help pupils.

Minister Arone said the school hostels were being refurbished and the company was on site to improve the condition of the environment where the children stayed.

He said Lempu was built to offer education, therefore it could not be closed and teaching would go on.

For his part, the director of education, Kweneng Region, Mr Benson Rauwe said starting June they received reports that pupils were under attack from mass hysteria again.

He said they quickly responded to the problem, but the number of affected pupils increased each day and currently 141 were absent from school.

He said with the help of the medical team led by Dr Keataretse Siamisang who explained the disease to the parents and that they would continue to engage them going forward.

Mr Rauwe said pupils' education had taken a few breaks, which was not good for their education and examinations preparation.

Dr Siamisang said it was difficult to explain the disease.

He said it could be caused by the environment where the pupils lived and could lead to anxiety or conversing disorder that caused one's body to respond.

He said investigations were still on-going to find out what could be the cause and they were yet to establish why the attacked happened to other pupils, but not others in the same environment, adding that mostly it affected girls.

In his remarks, Kgosi Moala Gaedupe of Salajwe said they were happy for the support which government continued to give to the pupils and parents of Lempu.

He said since March when the disease attacked the pupils, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane and former assistant Minister of Health and Wellness, Mr Biggie Butale together with senior government officials and the medical team came to check on them.

He urged parents to work in collaboration with government for a lasting solution.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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