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Monday, September 28, 2020
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Learner Accuses Pretoria School Of Racism And Keeping It Open Despite COVID-19 Positive Cases

NYAKALLO TEFU

A GRADE 11 learner at Tuks Sport High in Pretoria has accused the school of failing to close or call off lessons despite a number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases reported among teachers and learners.

The learner, Jaycobus Farmer from George in the Western Cape, says he was targeted after he and fellow learners raised issues about safety measures and protocols at the school.

Farmer said there are three teachers over the age of 60 at Tuks Sport High School who were still coming to school to teach learners despite government regulations.

The school headmaster, Hettie De Villiers, has denied this.

“The School complies with all the applicable Regulations. The Regulations do not prohibit people of the age of 60 from coming to work. It is that individual’s own choice to come to work or work from home,” said De Villiers.

“Although employees over the age of 60 are not encouraged to come to work, all employees over the age of 60, who underwent a thorough medical assessment and who were in good health, were allowed to come to work, subject to regular follow-up assessments by their Doctors.”

De Villiers has denied allegations of racism against Tuks Sport High School.

“This allegation is denied with contempt.  This is a blatantly false statement.  The School is proud to have more than 88% black and coloured learners,” she said.

Farmer was expelled a week ago after he was found guilty of disrespect and not adhering to the authority structures within Tuks Sport High School – intimidating or degrading a fellow learner in any way, including gestures, verbal threat or comments on a social media platform.

This is based on evidence that was produced, according to the school’s charge sheet.

Farmer has also been found guilty of bullying and engaging in any form of bullying, physical, emotional or cyber-bullying.

However, Farmer remains a registered learner of Tuks Sport High School until the end of the academic year and will be supported as per lockdown learning conditions.

He will be allowed to write his final Grade 11 exams at school, but will not be accommodated in the residence during the exam period.

“The school had promised that they would wash our masks every second day but they have never washed our masks,” said Farmer.

“They said they are in healthy condition but that is not the point. They are putting us at risk,” said Farmer.

Farmer alleged school teachers at Tuks Sport High have also been discriminating against the black and Coloured learners.

“We feel excluded. In the one incident recently the principal [Hettie de Villiers] called us in, saying we were moving in the Numbers Gang. We asked what she meant, and she clarified that we were walking in groups and when we asked her about other learners, she said there was a difference between us and them,” said Farmer. 

“I feel like the school does not care about our safety and I do not feel entirely safe at school, especially during the coronavirus pandemic peak, among other greater issues,” said Farmer.

“There have been certain cases that we were not made aware of, of people having contracted the virus, because they only closed the school after 12 cases of the coronavirus where reported.”

Farmer said the first six cases of the virus did not prompt the school to close.

He said all they did was isolate the learners and only notified parents when 12 cases were reported.

(COMPILED BY INSIDE EDUCATION STAFF)

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