KZN high school pupils protest, demanding daily 'smoke break'
Pupils at a high school in Umzinto, on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast, are demanding a daily “smoke break” - but provincial education authorities are having none of it.
Roseville Secondary School pupils demanded a smoke break between 8am and 9am at a designated area in the school grounds and raised other grievances with the institution's administration, refusing to attend classes last week. Pupils then embarked on a protest.
“We are not going to be held to ransom by kids. They are supposed to be in class learning, and we will not negotiate with them,” provincial education spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa told TimesLIVE on Thursday.
“They cannot tell us how to run a department. We are not going to allow this kind of behaviour to flourish at schools. We do not promote such behaviour from our learners and we stand firm against anyone who does this.”
Mthethwa said the department wanted pupils to lead a healthy lifestyle and smoking was not part of that.
Post newspaper reported that pupils made two videos citing their demands. One of the clips purportedly showed a pupil walking through the teachers' staff room, smoking.
The school was closed last week after the protests. As a result, pupils missed two exam papers.
Parents were called to the school on Sunday to discuss the matter.
Vee Gani, of the KZN Parents' Association, told Post that the demands were unacceptable.
“Smoking under the age of 18 is illegal. This is a criminal offence. Pupils seem to have a sense of entitlement and believe they have the right to make these types of demands. This needs to stop. Education in our country is struggling. Pupils need to respect teaching and learning at school.”