A large group of concerned parents gathered at Laerskool Danie Malan in Pretoria North on Thursday to express their concern after their children did not get placements at the school.
Roads leading to the school were cordoned off, and police remained on high alert outside the gates following a protest on Wednesday. This came after parents of black pupils alleged that their children were denied placements at the school.
Thalitha Ranamane, one of the parents, told News24 that when she arrived at the school on Monday to enquire why her child had not received a placement, she was chased away by security guards.
“They told us not to go inside. The guy from security told us that the principal only allows white parents to go inside, and only blacks must stay outside.
“It raised eyebrows as to why specifically we are not supposed to go inside and interact with him and ask him why our kids are not getting space. We are very concerned because the guy from security even said the k-word to us,” Ranamane said.
Ranamane, who lives nearby, said the Department of Education wanted to place her child at a school in Ga-Rankuwa, about 20km away.
“I have a house this side, and I pay services here. They cannot place my son on that side of Ga-Rankuwa. I don’t know why the Department of Education is failing us because everyone wants a good education for their kids.
Some of us were supposed to go to work, but we are here and want space for our children. This whole racism must end, we want equality, and we are not supposed to fight.
Another parent Tefo Chabedi said the parents went to the school to “express their dissatisfaction” with the principal of Laerskool Danie Malan.
“We are here to dispel the myth that this school is full. Constitutionally our children have to be in the class, so they have no choice. We will have to continue expressing our dissatisfaction by all means,” Chabedi said.
Chabedi, who has been living in the area for the past 15 years, called on Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to urgently intervene and “open access to all learners, irrespective of race”.
“They [education department] have schools that they are using as dumping grounds for our children, and the only reason why I say that is because they are buying more mobile classes, but the schools have more than several learners that the principals can manage.”
Karel van Zyl, chairperson of the school governing body (SGB) at Danie Malan, said the racism claims made by “political opportunists” were “baseless and vindictive accusations”.
“The school’s management rejects these accusations with the contempt it deserves,” Van Zyl said in a statement released on Thursday.
Van Zyl said the language demographic of the area was predominantly Afrikaans and Setswana and not English, as per the previous census. He denied claims that there were only 15 pupils in each Afrikaans class and that English pupils were packed “like sardines” in classrooms.
He said officials from the education department had been to the school and were aware of the “true facts”. Van Zyl added that the school was not responsible for the placement of Grade 1 pupils, adding that the responsibility for building schools was that of the Department of Basic Education.
“The SGB and the school management have been negotiating for three years with the Department of Education to seek alternatives and have repeatedly informed them that the school is full to capacity and cannot accommodate more learners.”
He said the SGB had identified premises suitable for the building of a satellite school and that negotiations were ongoing.
“The SGB remains committed to finding a long-term solution to the shortage of [space] in the Pretoria North area, but not at the expense or risk of the safety of our learners.”
He said the school also had to boost security at the premises to protect pupils and staff following threats of violence.
The school management finds it unacceptable that protesters with political motives are intimidating our learners and trying to disrupt our curriculum. A school is a place where children should feel safe. Unfortunately, some are using it as a political football field.
Gauteng education department spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department was working tirelessly to place all pupils in the province.
This content was originally published here.