South Africa: Parents Try to Shut Down School With Bullying Problem

5 February 2020

Education department has referred complaints to circuit manager

Parents in Atlantis, Cape Town, locked the main entry gate of Avondale Primary School on Tuesday. About 50 parents, mostly mothers, used a chain to lock the school gate. It was later cut by teachers to gain entry. One placard read in Afrikaans: "Ons is gatvol" ["We have had enough"].

Mohammad Petersen has three children, aged five, seven and nine, at the school. He lives in Saxonsea, Atlantis. He said bullying is a problem at the school and the school management and governing body have failed to address it. He said his son was in grade 1 and sustained a concussion after a fall because he was pushed by another pupil.

Petersen said one parent's child was attacked by six pupils at the school who dunked his head in a toilet bowl.

"The kids are already communicating in gangster slang, and profane language is a huge problem," he complained. He said some children made weapons from pencils and used them to stab each other on the school premises.

Ilze Nkgwe, a mother of four children at the school, said her nine-year-old child had been bullied for two years. She had brought it to the school's attention, but the issue was not addressed.

Anthea Phillips said: "The bullying has been happening for many years. I started complaining when my child was in grade 3. Now he is in grade 7. I have been engaging the school management, the secretary, teachers -- nothing is done about it."

Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said, "An official visited the school to address the parents [on Tuesday]. Thankfully, the protest ended before school began, so teaching and learning was not disrupted."

"The WCED is not aware of the concerns regarding bullying at the school. This will be addressed by the Circuit Manager with the School Management Team," she said.

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