The Department of Education issued a stern warning to teachers who compromised education by disrupting teaching and learning at the province’s schools.
This followed strike action on Friday by teachers at Khulugqame Primary School in KwaDabeka. They had downed tools and protested against the re-instatement of the school’s principal who had been on suspension for allegedly misappropriating school funds.
The principal was suspended in July and returned to the school on Monday, which led to teachers refusing to teach.
A small group of angry parents who supported the striking teachers, yesterday said they were not informed of the department’s findings in its investigation, and wanted to know why the principal had returned.
An acting official from the department was placed at the school in July to perform the principal’s duties until she returned on Monday.
The parents who had gathered outside the school, and who did not want to be named, said they were informed when the principal was suspended, but were not made aware of the findings of the investigation or the reasons why she had returned.
Pupils were locked outside the school’s main entrance and the teachers sat in their vehicles outside the school gate yesterday.
A graduation ceremony for the Grade R pupils, which had been scheduled to take place at 10am, was cancelled.
The parents said they were told someone had changed the gate lock overnight and there wasn’t a key to open the gate.
Parents demanded a meeting with the department official to address them about the principal’s return, and also threatened to stone the teachers’ cars to get the department’s attention.
One parent said they supported the teachers because they also did not want the principal back at the school, but they were also worried about their children being locked out.
“We want a new principal. If teachers are refusing to teach what is going to happen to our children? No classes have taken place for the past two days. Teachers must have valid reasons why they wanted the principal gone. We support the teachers because there was no communication about the principal’s return,” said the parent.
Kwazi Mthethwa, the department spokesperson, warned that schools would not be held to ransom by any group.
Mthethwa said the teachers and parents should respect the department’s decisions.
He could not comment on the matter against the principal or about the reasons she was reinstated.
“Those blocking the school processes of teaching and learning are warned to desist. Instead, they should engage in peaceful ways of doing things. We call upon all education stakeholders to come together and map the way forward,” said Mthethwa.
Attempting to calm the angry parents, the school principal said the situation “was out of her control” and that the keys to the school were missing.
“I don’t know who changed the locks. I have been reinstated by the department, and you should raise your concerns with the department,” she said.
South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) officials were at the school yesterday, but refused to speak to the Daily News as they were not authorised to do so.
Nomarashiya Caluza, Sadtu’s provincial secretary, had not commented by the time of publication.