Cosas vows to continue school protests
Education MEC granted high court interdict ordering raids on schools to stop
AFTER raiding several schools and tearing up the exam papers of hundreds of matric candidates, the Congress of South African Students has vowed to continue fighting against the closure of the only finishing school in the Western Cape.
After the second matric exam in two days was disrupted by protesting Cosas members yesterday at schools in Khayelitsha and Philippi, MEC for Education Donald Grant was granted an interdict in the Cape High Court barring Cosas from disrupting exams.
Yesterday Cosas members stormed two schools in Philippi and tore up pupils’ physics exam scripts. But the schools had replacement papers and the exams started again with the pupils finishing the new papers.
However, it is not known when the pupils from Langa High, who had their English First Additional exams disrupted on Thursday, will sit the paper again. The Education Department said candidates would be notified.
Grant met Premier Helen Zille yesterday and consulted Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga before applying for the interdict to bar protesting Cosas members.
After raiding Langa High on Thursday, the mob attempted to force their way into three other schools in Langa on the same day.
Yesterday the crowd stormed Thembelihle High School in Khayelitsha, but the matrics had not yet started writing their physical science exam.
Frustrated, they regrouped at Khayelitsha station and then headed to Philippi’s Sinethemba High where they entered classrooms and disrupted the exam.
They then charged off to Intsebenziswano High School, climbed over the fence, disrupted the exam and tore up papers.
There were unconfirmed reports that two pupils had been injured in yesterday’s fracas.
Cosas members are protesting against the possible closure of Lagunya Finishing School. It is the only school left in the province where pupils who failed matric can repeat subjects at a cost of R50 a subject.
Cosas provincial chairman Benjamin Zantsi said they had tried to meet Motshekga to plead with her not to close the school.
“The minister promised to get back to us and she has not. Cosas leadership along with pupils in the area decided that if she does not want to listen to us then we will have to disrupt exams so that they can come down to our level. If these pupils fail they will have to go to the finishing school where they will see that the school is effective and relevant,” Zantsi said.
They would continue their fight since most of their members could not afford to complete their schooling at expensive FET colleges.
“The only way for them to get a second chance is through the finishing school which is affordable. There was an unfortunate end to our actions with two pupils getting hurt, but we have tried to meet with the ministers,” said Zantsi.
“We are going to continue our fight but we will have to change our tactics and find other non-violent strategies. We will also try to assist police to make sure whoever is turning violent will be dealt with and face the law.”
But in a statement yesterday, Grant said: “We simply cannot tolerate this kind of thuggish behaviour which prejudices the rights of pupils writing the most important examinations of their lives.
“Minister Motshekga has backed our decision to seek an interdict. She has also indicated that she has spoken to the Presidency which has given its support for tough action to be taken against anyone who disrupts any examination centre.”
Commenting on the interdict, Zantsi said: “I am not surprised and no one will stop Cosas until Cosas decides to stop. We are not scared of the interdict.”
Grant wrote to Lagunya Finishing School on September 31 stating that it would be closed on December 31.
The Education Department has previously said that the current model for schooling in the country does not make provision for the operation of finishing schools. A public consultation process on the closure is yet to be finalised.