Learners of Kabelo Combined School at Greenside area, accompanied by their parents, marched to the Department of Education head office on Monday to demand school furniture.
The protest action coincided with a visit to the department by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Basic Education.
During the protest action which was closely monitored by Police, learners refused to leave and attempted to block the main gate of the departmental premises demanding an immediate response from the department.
A representative of the parents, Solly Ramahama said the school has been without proper furniture since 2009 and they have been trying to make the department aware of the situation but their request has fallen onto deaf ears. The situation has forced the school’s 850 learners to sit on firewood and worn out chairs during lessons.
“This is our first march to the department since 2009. We have been sending our school governing bodies to the department but nothing came through. What they did was to make empty promises and we felt like the department was not taking us serious hence we staged the protest,” Ramahama said.
Mpho Thobane, a Grade 12 learner at the school said they don’t want any luxury or fancy furniture but decent school furniture that will enable them to study without any hindrances. “It is uncomfortable to sit for a class on a worn out chair. The responsible authorities should spare a thought for us because the situation is unacceptable,” Mpho said. The school accepts learners from Grade 8 to 12 from Disteneng, Extension 44, Extension 77 and surrounding areas.
Senior Manager Communication Services at the department, Naledzani Rasila said they are aware of the concerns of the learners and parents at Kabelo Combined School. “They indicated that they are running short of the school furniture. We sat down with them and showed them a departmental dispatch plan and it illustrates that the Department will distribute the school furniture to all the schools that don’t have the furniture on 30 August and they were also on the list,” Rasila said.
Rasila said the portfolio committee visit had nothing to do with the protest but was part of a normal oversight process. “They were accompanied by MEC Ishmael Kgetjepe. They will also conduct oversight visits in some Capricorn and Mopani schools next week. The committee will look at a number of interventions and priorities of the Education Sector as set out in major government plans such as the National Development Plan 2030 and the Medium Term Strategic Framework 2014-2019 which says Education is the key priority in the country. Therefore, the committee will check on the quality of provision of education in the province.”
Story: Herbert Rachuene