Former Grade 12 pupils of an Eastern Cape school implicated in the 2014 matric cheating scandal have taken over and shut down the school, demanding their certificates.
No teaching and learning has taken place at Gxaba Senior Secondary School in Lujizweni village in Ngqeleni since the takeover on Monday.
Teachers have been reporting to the district education office while more than 1300 pupils are forced to stay home.
The angry former pupils, who have moved into the school and even sleep there, yesterday threatened to burn the school to the ground tomorrow if the department failed to give them their certificates.
School principal Thamsanqa Kabalaza confirmed that staff were now reporting to the department of education’s district offices.
When a Daily Dispatch team arrived at the school it was greeted by a group of about 40 youths armed with sticks. A group of parents were sitting outside the gates.
The latter told the paper they had been coming to the school to try and calm their children and make sure they did not trash the school.
“We built this school with our own hands as parents because we wanted our children to get an education,” shouted one of the parents, who refused to give his name.
Although the former pupils refused to give their names, they allowed the newspaper to take pictures.
They said they had decided to take over and shut down the school in order to force the department to respond swiftly to their demands.
“They [education authorities] are burying us alive.
“We have been waiting for two years for our results and can’t go to university without producing a statement of symbols and a matric certificate,” one of the pupils said.
The Daily Dispatch reported early last year that an investigation by the national Department of Basic Education had uncovered group copying in about 58 centres in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal prior to the announcement of the 2014 matric results.
A total of 42 centres were initially identified in the Eastern Cape in the investigation, but only 19 were implicated.
Among the schools implicated were Gxaba Senior Secondary under the Libode district of education, Mathumbu Senior Secondary in Dutywa, Sovuka Sikhanye High in Queenstown and Nowawe High near King William’s Town.
The disgruntled former Gxaba matric pupils said they were told they were suspected of having participated in group-copying in maths, accounting, history and geography.
However, yesterday they protested their innocence.
They revealed that they had also sat down and written supplementary exams earlier last year for the four subjects, but they had not yet received their results.
Some claimed they had even taken to drinking and drugs as a result of their stress.
The group also vowed that no official from the Independent Electoral Commission would be allowed into the school, which is meant to be used as a voting registration centre this weekend.
Provincial education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani had not responded to an e-mail from the Dispatch by late yesterday despite promising to do so. Attempts to contact the national Department of Basic Education were also unsuccessful. — firstname.lastname@example.org