Learners prevent teachers from entering Pietermaritzburg school

Anger boils over because of no electricity and no maths or physics teachers

Learners burn rubbish in front of Sukuma Secondary School in Pietermaritzburg. They are angry because they have no maths literacy or physics teachers and the school has been without electricity. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane. (Faces have been blurred)

By Nompendulo Ngubane

8 April 2019

On Monday learners from Sukuma Secondary School in Pietermaritzburg barricaded FJ Sithole Road with broken bottles. The learners claim the school has been without electricity since the second term started last week, and there have been no teachers for maths literacy and physics since January.

Vehicles were forced to use alternative routes because learners had thrown bottles onto the road. Teachers were stopped from leaving the school grounds. The learners also burnt rubbish in front of the school gate. The protests started after the first two school periods, before 10am. When GroundUp left at noon, the protest was ongoing.

Lindelwa Shozi in grade 11 said the school has not been able to give answers as to why there is no electricity. “The principal told us there was a problem with the transformer. We don’t believe that. There is more he is not telling us. We have seen Eskom cars passing by the school. They would have fixed it if the problem is the transformer. … We can’t photocopy. That service is now paid for at internet cafes. We can’t function properly without electricity,” she said.

“Our fellow learners who are hostel learners have not returned. They were told to stay at home until the matter is sorted. They are behind with their studies,” said Shozi.

The protesting students shouted that they will continue the protest on Tuesday. “Tomorrow we will be on the streets again,” shouted one learner. “We want teachers for maths literacy and physics,” he said. “I’m a grade 11 learner. I can’t do my practical projects because we have no teachers. We have not studied anything since January – that will have a bad impact on our results.”

KwaZuku-Natal Department of Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said the department will intervene in the matter before the end of the week. He said the department cannot afford to have learners missing classes.

We could not obtain comment from the school.