Discontent brewing in Port Elizabeth's Northern Areas over 'failed promises'

AUGUST 27, 2015

Parents in Port Elizabeth's Northern Areas vowed their children will not write the annual national assessment exams this year, unless the education department makes good on the promises to ease the plight at schools.

At a meeting on Wednesday night, parents said they will keep their children at home for the four day period over the exams, and were "also quite clear" they would not accept anymore promises.

They took to the streets in protest in July, expressing anger at teacher shortages in the area and various others issues, like the non-payment of teachers.

In a statement on Thursday, the Northern Areas Education Forum (NAEF) said it had embarked on protest action on instruction from parents, to force the department to address basic education needs in their schools.

"The action taken by the parents were derailed by third force elements and the over reaction of police in handling the protest. The police were ill-informed," the forum said about the violence that erupted during the march.

"The forum must express its frustration with developments in addressing our grievances," the statement said.


It said acting superintendent-general Ray Tywakadi and education MEC Mandla Makapula were in Nelson Mandela Bay at the height of the crisis, where "certain commitments were made in front of various witnesses".

The department, however, indicated it would only act if Tywakadi or Makapula put their commitments in writing.

The NAEF acknowledged progress made in the appointment of teachers in some Level 1 and promotion posts, but said much more needed to be done.

"There is still 104 vacant posts. Some of the teachers are still awaiting payment. It must be stated clearly that the other grievances have still not been addressed," the forum said.

"The Bisho government was approached to assist. Communication was also sent to the minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga."

Frustrated parents

Parents were frustrated and believed the forum had failed them, and have now instructed them to not support any initiatives of the department.

The department was not immediately available for comment.

On July 27, violent protests by residents saw roads blocked, cars stoned and a Daily Sun journalist hit over the head and robbed.

Police fired rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the crowd.

Two men were arrested for public violence.