A heavy-hearted parent Jerry Motaung* has accused the Free State department of education of denying his son the right to basic education for nearly two years.
Motaung said his nine-year-old son has been repeating his grade-one class and was later classified as a slow learner needing to attend a specialised school – an announcement that has since left the young boy staying home.
He told Sunday World that he had thought that his child would at least attend school this year, but the department has been avoiding his enquiry, hiding under COVID-19 regulations, which had forced the closure of schools in March.
“In January 2018, he started schooling at Petsana Combined School. The teacher raised a concern of my son being a slow learner. The school referred my son to a doctor for assessment. The doctor assessed my son in November 2018,” said Motaung.
“I never received any formal feedback from the assessment from the session held in November 2018 with the doctor or the school. As the doctor is a resident in Reitz, I bumped into him and asked him about the assessment.
“He highlighted that there are challenges with my son, but with not much in detail. At the end of the year, I received my son’s school report which stated that he has failed grade one.”
He said towards the end of January 2019, the school called him to explain that his child needed a specialised school without fair reasons for the transfer, but he said he suspected it was a result of the assessment report.
Hardly a month after the transfer to Maluti Hooglandskool, the child’s parents were called in and told that the school cannot accommodate “an autistic child”.
“Once again this left me confused as Petsana Combined School referred my son to Maluti school as they believed they were capable to deal with whatever challenges they identified from my child … they said I had to return him to Petsana or else to a private school called Speranza Academy,” said the devastated parent.
Departmental spokesperson Howard Ndaba said the department was unaware of the matter.
“The principal has no right to expel a pupil from school. The parent should make contact with the department,” he said.
* Not real name to protect identity of the child.