- Students and teachers fear for their lives
- Drugs, alcohol, violence, having class and storerooms sex rife
- Student stabbed and hospitalized just last week and one teacher tossed off a flat
KAGO KOMANE and QUEEN MOSARWE
Teachers at Gaborone Secondary School (GSS) say they live in fear of being killed by a group of students who have proven to be a menace at the school this term.
Addressing an emergency Parents Teachers Association (PTA) meeting last week, the school’s Head of Department, Gertrude Molebo revealed that there were as much as 33 known Form 5 delinquents whose sole objective is to continuously disrupt school proceedings at will.
“There are two groups of gangs in this school and we live in fear for our lives because it seems they are not afraid of anyone or anything. These 33 students terrorize the school so much that teachers even lock themselves in offices and leave other learners to fend for themselves because they are not afraid of even coming to the staff room and beating teachers in there,” she revealed.
The school says it has established that students who are members of the two gangs tend to go to parties during the weekend where they develop bad blood, getting involved in fights that extend to school. According to teachers, the students bring weapons such as golf clubs, bats and knives to school among other things.
“Last week Monday one student was stabbed with a sharp object by another student on the face during a fight. The student was immediately whisked to Princess Marina Hospital for medical attention,” Molebo says the student in question was stabbed while trying to mediate during a fight.
Teachers at the school say the students have a free reign at the school as no one is capable of matching them, “If you try to intervene you end up being a victim.” According to Molebo, the disruptive students still make their way to the school when suspended because the Ministry of Education keeps reinstating them.
DRUGS AND ALCOHOL
The delinquent students are said to be so brazen that together with abstaining from classes, they openly smoke and sell drugs as well as drinking alcohol within the school premises. “They take money from other students by force and beat them, and it seems there is nothing we can physically do to stop them. Even when they are suspended, they wait for other learners at the bus rank, where they are beaten senselessly and their money and other belongings taken from them,” Molebo said.
Classrooms that were refurbished not long ago have also been vandalized and presently miss locks, windows and sockets.“There is no security especially for teachers because when teachers are in class, they disrupt classes, …fa morutabana a re wa kgalema, ba mmolella gore ba tla kopana le ene.” According to Molebo, toilets were clogged by broken bottles of alcohol said to be brought to school by the students.
SEX IN CLASSES
Used condoms have also been found in class storerooms, being evidence of sexual activities between gang members who usually both boys and girls. “They then leave their used condoms in the classrooms. Some do this at the garden where it is also their common smoking area. There have been cases where the security guards tried to call them to order after they caught them and they accused the security team of being envious of them having sex,” expounded Molebo.
Botswana Sector of Trade Unions (BOSETU) Shop Stewart for GSS, Ray Phosa, says they are concerned by the poor response by the Ministry as representatives of teachers in the region, “This term has been the worst so far. Teachers are beaten and injured by these students willy-nilly and every time they are suspended the ministry brings them back to school after the two weeks of suspension,” he said.
He revealed that one teacher was currently on sick leave after being pushed off a classroom flat by a student, sustaining fractures following a fight between students early this year. Another teacher was hit on the head with a stone, while another one was strangled by a student: “We are powerless and live in constant fear because of these students,” he reiterated.
Some parents who attended the PTA meeting called for all the 33 students to be expelled from Gaborone Senior Secondary School as they have already been suspended several times without changing. They called on the Ministry to act decisively because other students live in fear and cannot use school facilities without being assaulted. A suggestion was made that a wall be built at the back of the school as the fence is incapable of stopping them from getting in and out of school during lessons.
One parent criticized government for reinstating the students back to the school, saying they should not have been brought to school after “failing their junior certificate exams.” “Government has to be blamed for this because they pushed these failures to come to school,” she said. She called for the amendment of school rules to make it easy to expel such delinquent students.
The Ministry of Education however says that the expulsion of students from school is not encouraged, because doing so would be denying such students the right to education. Expulsion, the Ministry says, should be the last resort after such interventions as counseling, mentorship and guidance prove fruitless.