Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea

Journalist


Parents protest at ‘severe educational neglect’ at Theresa Park Secondary School

Parents are outraged as Theresa Park Secondary School faces overcrowding crisis, and accusing the education department of neglect and silence.


Anger and frustration have reached boiling point among the parents of pupils who are allegedly supposed to be attending Theresa Park Secondary School in Pretoria.

They are accusing the Gauteng department of basic education of neglecting the pupils in the midst of an overcrowding crisis in various schools across the city.

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Ahead of a school governing body meeting and a parents’ and district meeting today, parents said the department’s inaction and silence on this matter spoke volumes, “especially since this whole mess of a crisis started at the beginning of the year due to their allocation system”.

Kagiso Mamabolo, whose brother went to Amandasig High School in Pretoria North after being accepted at Theresa Park, said the move was demotivating and disheartening for pupils.

“They feel unwanted, unwelcome and are all working very hard to keep up, despite being treated like they don’t belong.”

Since the beginning of the year, pupils who were temporarily on rotation were placed at Amandasig due to vacant containers and an under-construction yard near Theresa Park Primary, which was supposedly allocated for Theresa Park Secondary and Theresa Park Primary 2.

Following a tip-off from a concerned parent, Saturday Citizen visited the schools to find vacant containers allegedly intended to alleviate overcrowding.

At Amandasig, displaced pupils were attending classes wearing uniforms from Thutong Primary, Theresa Park Primary, Padisago Primary, Christian Progressive, Sediba sa Tsebo, Thorntree, JJ de Jong Primary, Rosslyn Primary, Laerskool General Beyers, Lord Miller School and Onderstepoort Primary, among others.

This was a stark reminder of the dire situation facing pupils in the area. Parents allegedly shut down Theresa Park Secondary on Monday after concerns about “overcrowding, inadequate learning time and severe educational neglect”.

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They said the department had admitted more pupils to the school than available capacity.

When asked what the department’s plan was with the crisis, department spokesperson Steve Mabona said: “There was no shutdown. We agreed with parents that the school will open on Monday.”

Driving past the school, which was supposed to be opened on Monday, Saturday Citizen saw a large, water-filled hole, waisthigh grass and dusty containers.

Mamabolo said parents were demanding immediate action to rectify the situation, which has been compromising their children’s education.

Many feel betrayed by the department’s repeated promises to tackle the issue, only to see no tangible improvements on the ground.

“They keep saying soon, but the teachers here who know the truth said they are uncertain of the time frame and did not want to get the children’s hopes high,” he said.

“We’ve had enough of empty promises and excuses. Our children are being crammed into overcrowded classrooms, hindering their ability to learn effectively. It’s unacceptable and we demand accountability.”

Earlier this year, the parents gathered outside the main entrance of Theresa Park Secondary, insisting that the school admit their children for the Grade 8 academic year.

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Many of the parents said they had applied online last year and were still waiting for a response from the district office and school.

They also accused the school of prioritising admission for children living outside the school’s geographical area.

The parents said they felt betrayed and disillusioned and many expressed disbelief at the lack of urgency shown by the education authorities in addressing the overcrowding crisis.

They said the situation was exacerbated by the implementation of rotational classes which further disrupted the learning process and had left pupils struggling to keep up.