Pupils should not become victims of parents' grievances

19 August 2015 - 02:09 By The Times Editorial

Pupils in many poorer communities have had to endure overcrowded classrooms, substandard teaching, violence on the playground and lengthy strikes by teachers. Last year about 17 000 pupils at 54 schools in Northern Cape were forced to miss classes for months on end because of crippling community protests about the poor state of roads.Many of the protesters had children in the affected schools, some in their matric year.In February, protesters in Malamulele, Limpopo, torched the administration block of a high school to press home their demands for their council to be separated from the Thulamela local municipality.Yesterday, several parents were injured at Roodepoort Primary School - recently closed by officials after months of disruptions over the appointment of a principal and her deputies - when police fired rubber bullets and teargas at protesters.Angry parents had reportedly tried to break into the school and prevent children from boarding buses provided to take them to alternative schools.The frustration of parents in poor communities who sometimes have no choice but to send their children to cramped, under-resourced schools where teaching standards and discipline are poor is understandable.For many, a decent education is the only way for their children to break out of the poverty trap and get a shot at a decent job.But a school like Roodepoort Primary does not seem to fit this mould - the dispute appears to have been fuelled by tensions over the principal's race and allegations of corruption.No matter how deep their frustrations run, there can be no excuse for parents exposing their children to violence.There just has to be a better way.

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