Pupil’s ex­clu­sion slammed

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - NABEELAH SHAIKH

THE case of a Pi­eter­mar­itzburg pupil who was placed in soli­tary con­fine­ment for three days af­ter her par­ents de­faulted on school fee pay­ments has placed the poli­cies of in­de­pen­dent schools in the fir­ing line.

Out­raged par­ents, re­act­ing to the in­ci­dent on so­cial me­dia this week, said the school was wrong to have acted in the way it did and that its pol­icy was un­con­sti­tu­tional.

But the In­de­pen­dent Schools As­so­ci­a­tion of South­ern Africa (Isasa) main­tains a tough stance on the is­sue of non-pay­ment of school fees.

Isasa ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Le­bo­gang Mon­t­jane said no school ex­cluded a pupil as a first re­sort.

In­de­pen­dent Me­dia re­ported that the Ep­worth School Grade 10 pupil was placed in soli­tary af­ter her par­ents fell be­hind in school fees which were R60 000 per term. But the par­ent claimed he was only R12 000 short. The pupil was un­able to in­ter­act with her peers or at­tend classes.

“Of­ten ex­haus­tive ef­forts are made to con­tact a par­ent and com­mu­ni­cate with them as to the pre­cise na­ture of the debt and con­se­quences of non-pay­ment” but to no avail, said Mon­t­jane. He said these same par­ents were quick to ac­cuse the school of be­ing “un­kind” to a child for ex­clud­ing them from (un­paid) classes.

Chil­dren’s rights ac­tivist Ajith Ram­goon said: “The school lacks com­pas­sion.“The par­ent should move the child to a good pub­lic school where there is more warmth.”

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