Parents with children at Mtshabezi High School in Gwanda, Matabeleland South are outraged by the ‘intense’ bullying and fights that are occurring among learners at the school.
They are demanding action from the school administration and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, as this is not the first-time learners have raised alarm over these vices.
So bad is the bullying and the fighting that some learners have pleaded with their parents to take them back home, as they are terrified of what they call ‘Blood Friday’ where upper six learners pounce on the other learners on the last Friday of every month.
“There is serious bullying at the school. Some boys have cried as they wanted to come home with us, running away from this Blood Friday,” said a concerned parent who spoke to CITE.
The parents said they had attended an orientation meeting at the school over the weekend with the administration but these issues were not highlighted as they learnt of them afterwards when they met the children.
”We first met with the school officials then after that meeting, we went to see our children who told us all of these things. It is unfortunate we could not ask the headmaster face to face,” said another parent.
The learners also cited theft as another problem, as food from their children’s trunks would just disappear.
“Either the food is stolen by other learners who are known to the children but are afraid to speak up or it is the school staff who help themselves. This is wrong, we cannot be sponsoring other people to eat at the expense of our children,” said the parents who noted that they had received messages from their children saying they needed more food.
When contacted for comment, the school headmaster, Morgan Moyo, suggested parents should stop talking to the press but deal with the school directly when contacted for comment.
“They must not get to you because I’m not aware that we are not dealing with those things. Two, as a journalist we are generally not expected to be talking to you, so you are actually asking me a question that is difficult to respond to. The (education) ministry has procedures in terms of who we should be talking to and so on,” he said.
Moyo stated that he was aware of these issues but claimed the school had addressed them over the weekend.
“I am aware of such things and parents were here at the weekend, where we were able to talk to them. I think this is a parent that is misdirected in my view that is doing things that way, what helps is to deal with the school. We had an orientation day and that kind of parent in my view is just not well intentioned because a well-intentioned parent will deal with us,” said the headmaster.
Parents, however, accused the headmaster of arrogance and that he “does not spend time at the school but spends most of his time running his business in town.”
Director of Communications and Advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Taungana Ndoro, confirmed this was not the first time he had “heard of these problems” so more investigations were needed.
“We have to carry out investigations through our Learner Support Service to find out the root causes of why that sort of bullying is happening because it actually may be emanating from some of the learners’ homes where there is a dysfunctional family and they then take it out to other learners at school so there is lots of investigations we need to do,” he said.
The ministry spokesperson said school authorities had to be engaged for a resolution.
“We will also embark on guidance and counselling but if all else fails we need to exclude some of the learners who will be the perpetrators and put them in another school,” Ndoro said.
Ndoro also encouraged the parents to come forward to the ministry and present their challenges for a direct approach.
“Parents and guardians can come to the ministry and talk to us,” he summed.