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CLOSE SCHOOLS, RELEASE ARRESTED MPS - LUBOMBO HEAD TEACHERS

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SITEKI – Head teachers of schools under the Lubombo Region have collectively called for the immediate closure of schools and further advised government to release the incarcerated Members of Parliament (MPs) to calm the situation.

The head teachers told Lubombo Regional Education Officer, (REO) Richard Dlamini, to compile a report and submit their concerns to the Ministry of Education and Training. This transpired during a meeting of the school administrators attended by over 40 of them. REO Dlamini pointed out that their presence was meant to map a way forward with regard to the ongoing protests by pupils in schools. Dlamini assured the teachers that their submissions and suggestions would be compiled and submitted to the ministry for consideration.

Meeting

“Our meeting reminds me of when Jesus was asleep in a boat with his disciples. A storm shook the boat and in fear, the disciples woke Jesus up and He calmed the waters. It is imperative that the meeting should ensure that the storms we are encountering are calmed,” he said. Dlamini said as a region, they had been mandated to come up with a comprehensive report that would be a yardstick of what head teachers wanted to be done by the ministry.

“We are in the forefront and we are the captains of the education ship in the region. I was told that two trucks belonging to Southern Star were pelted with stones by pupils from Phonjwane and Sibusisweni high schools. The situation is worsening with each passing day,” the REO remarked. Worth mentioning was that, the head teachers asked that their identities be concealed to protect them from victimisation. One head teacher said government knew what was expected to be done to calm the situation. 

He submitted that government should do the honourable thing and release the incarcerated MPs in Hosea’s Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Ngwempisi’s Mthandeni Dube, to normalise the prevailing situation. “If that is not done, we are in danger. My teachers are afraid to return to class after experiences of being assaulted by the pupils. Government should address the political unrest and let teachers go back to class,” he said.

Another head teacher said the ongoing anarchy in schools was politically motivated, hence government should intervene and released the incarcerated MPs.
The head teacher said the pupils had sent a clear message that government continued to ignore. “We cannot run away from the fact that the pupils’ protests are influenced by political elements. Government should do what is expected and not make us scapegoats,” he submitted.

Another colleague pointed out that in a parents’ meeting, he was told by parents that their children wanted the incarcerated MPs released. “It is our second week since we suspended classes at my school. This predicament is bigger than us as head teachers as it is influenced by people from outside our schools. I was told by the pupils that they wanted their MP, ‘Gawuzela’ back and that he should be allowed to walk freely without being arrested. So, the ministry should act because we won’t resume lessons until government has addressed and attended to the pupils’ grievances,” he said.

The head teachers further requested Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) to intervene in the matter. They also made it clear that the pupils have been learning for the past 11 weeks, particularly those in Form III and Form V and needed a break.

Break

“A term has 13 weeks and as teachers, we also need a break to rejuvenate. They also need a break to rekindle themselves because they have been learning non-stop even on weekends,” said another head teacher. REO Dlamini said all the submissions would be compiled and submitted to the ministry tomorrow. Also addressing the head teachers was Lubombo Regional Police Commander Charles Magagula, who appealed to the head teachers to co-operate with them.
Magagula acknowledged that the situation was beyond the head teachers’ control but implored them to contact them when they encountered problems or were faced with challenges like the ongoing protests.

“The pupils should be considerate that change without education is not the right answer. Police also want educated people; we cannot, as a nation, breed uneducated people yet we are looking at having architects from the present crop of pupils,” added the commander.

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