Disgruntled Grade 12 pupils are suspected to have been involved in the torching of an administration block and classrooms at the Ndaliso Senior Secondary School in Flagstaff‚ the Eastern Cape education department said on Wednesday.
The fire was started on Tuesday night‚ according to spokesperson Mali Mtima.
“The burning of the administration block follows a protest by the school’s Grade 12 progressed learners‚ who were demanding to write all the subjects – despite the advice from the department to write some this year and the remainder of them next year‚ as they are part of the ‘multiple examination opportunity’ candidates‚” said Mtima.
On the issue of progressed learners‚ Mtima explained: “When you want a learner to go to the next grade‚ you look at variables such as the strength of the learner‚ the age‚ and other issues. You progress the learner to the next grade‚ but there should be an intervention strategy from the school as to how they will be supported as they cannot make it on their own through Grade 12. A school can make a determination [on how many exams the student will write] based on the results of the developed support programme.
“It can recommend that since [the learner] did not do well in the trial exams‚ it won’t allow them to write all the subjects. Based on that‚ you engage the parent of the learner to say‚ ‘this learner can only write so many subjects’‚” he said.
The affected pupil would then write the remainder of their subjects the following year.
Mtima told TimesLIVE that of the 358 pupils registered to write exams at the school‚ 232 were progressed learners.
Of the 358‚ a total of 350 were scheduled to write their English exam on Tuesday‚ but none of them ended up writing it due to protest action.
“All efforts were made to convince them but in vain. During the protest‚ the protesting learners also assaulted the deputy principal of the school‚” said Mtima.
A meeting was held where students requested that they all be allowed to write all seven subjects. Mtima said they also wanted to be given new Grade 11 report cards‚ which stated that they passed all subjects in 2017 – despite the fact that they had failed. “In the meeting a group of these learners agreed to write their examinations as of today‚ while the other group remained hell-bent and wanted to disrupt all agreed upon issues.
“The multi-stakeholders’ meeting adjourned‚ having agreed to utilise a nearby school to accommodate those who want to write their examinations. Before the meeting adjourned [on Tuesday]‚ all stakeholders agreed to continue engaging the small group which didn’t want to write their examinations‚” he said.
Police and community volunteers were to be brought in to ensure that pupils wanting to write exams on Wednesday could do so without any disruption.
A meeting was scheduled to be held with the rest of the pupils‚ who elected not to sit for the exams until their grievances were attended to.
Asked if pupils will get an opportunity to write the English paper they missed on Tuesday‚ Mtima said this would still need to be determined.
“The district is to submit a report to the province and say what happened and give recommendations. The province may approve or decline this‚ after looking at the reasons provided‚” said Mtima.