'We do not have a school here'
Pupils allocated phoney marks, some punched by teachers, others allowed to loiter during school hours and going for months without lessons. These are some of the problems plaguing Odi Primary in North West.
After listening to a litany of concerns from parents at the school in Oukasie township near Brits yesterday, the province's MEC for education, Louisa Mabe, said: "We do not have a school here."
Elizabeth Mathabathe told the urgently convened meeting - called to tackle the crisis at the school - she was surprised when her daughter in Grade 6 received good marks for Afrikaans and technology, two subjects she had not been taught for more than two months.
"How could she pass the subjects when she had not seen a teacher for over two months?" the bemused mother asked.
Another parent, whose child is in Grade 7, said for the past three months nothing had been written in her daughter's books. She had not seen any homework either.
Her daughter had told her : "We go to school to play and eat."
Principal Thapelo Ntlatleng was suspended last month on allegations of financial mismanagement after a cheque to pay for 50 computers bounced. Ntlatleng failed to provide the school governing body with financial statements.
Pupils have also been caught up in battles between teachers who support Ntlatleng's suspension and those who oppose it.
The school owes the municipality R100000 for services.
Mabe paid a surprise visit to the school last week and said she was shocked by what she found.
"Just arriving at the school it was clear there was laxity, that people here are too relaxed to ensure that education becomes functional . I was so disappointed. I went to other schools and they had started by 9am, but this school had not started when I arrived at 10.30am," Mabe said.
She was so worried that she had called the urgent meeting with parents on a public holiday.
Mabe criticised staff for not taking the children's education seriously: "There are many wrong things happening in this school ... the things that parents are saying are what I had observed. The school has a problem of financial management and governing body [members] sign cheques because they believe that when the principal says sign they must just sign," she said.
Mabe vowed to take tough action against the staff.