Parents storm school meeting

Parents storm school meeting

MASERU – PARENTS at Thaba-Tseka school stormed a meeting organised by the Ministry of Education, demanding that the principal be fired. The meeting was between the Ministry of Education officials, the school board and the principal.

The angry parents told the officials that they were sick and tired of the principal of Tšepo Primary School, Hopolang Makhaola, whom they accused of keeping weapons in his office and threatening to harm teachers.
The ministry’s officials had gone to the school after three teachers refused to attend, claiming in their letter that the principal had threatened to kill them.
Witnesses said the parents barged into the meeting and demanded to be part of the discussions.

A witness said the parents also demanded that the principal be fired.
The incident comes a few months after a teacher was fired from the school for bringing a gun to class.
The teacher, Matsoai Koneshe, said he was armed because he had been viciously attacked by a man he claimed was hired by the principal.
Koneshe told thepost he had to carry a gun because the police had not done anything when he reported his attack. He said he spent days in hospital after the attack.
He claimed that his assailant was using a sword he had earlier seen in the principal’s office.

Principal Makhaola however denied that he owns the sword and said he had nothing to do with Koneshe’s attack.
Koneshe’s issue was part of the stormy meeting last week. The parents are said to have told the education officials that the teachers were justified to fear for their lives because of what happened to Koneshe.
’Makhethang Lintlhokoane, a board member at the school, said the parents wanted to know why Koneshe was fired for trying to protect himself against Makhaola.

“The principal has been nothing but trouble to us for the past nine years I have been a member of the board at this school,” Linthokoane told thepost.
Lintlhokoane said prior to the meeting at the school, the village’s Chief Machabe Lintlhokoane had called a public gathering to tell parents and the community that three teachers had received threats.
“He told us that the principal said the mortuary would fill to capacity and even be extended (limmoshara li tla tlala li be li atolosoe),” Lintlhokoane said.

“It cannot be a coincidence that all teachers have something against the principal that they would all lie about being threatened.”
She said some students have complained about how the principal treats teachers.
“There is only one common denominator in all of this and that is the principal, no one else,” she said.

’Momojabeng Moqhe, a parent, accused the principal of neglecting his duties to focus on “office squabbles and politics”.
“We have the right to know what happened to the teachers and why we no longer see them at school, but he (principal) will not tell us why,” Moqhe said.

She said the parents believe that Makhaola “should either be fired or transferred for the sake of peace at the school”.
But Makhaola has remained adamant that he will not be pushed out.
He told thepost that the allegations are “nonsensical lies that are aimed to tarnish my name”.
“There is no truth in all of these accusations,” Makhaola said.
“If there were any threats directed to the teachers there should be proof. The police did not find any truth in this and this says they are all lies.” Makhaola said one of the teachers who have written the letters of complaint to the ministry is Koneshe’s wife and the other two are Koneshe’s friends.

“The hiring and firing of teachers is not done by me but the TSC (Teaching Service Commission) but they seem to think I had something to do with his dismissal.”
“They think I influence the decisions of TSC and that is not true.”

Chief machabe Lintlhokoane, a school board member, said parents want to know what is happening at the school but Makhaola is not telling them anything.
“The principal Makhaola said he did not know about the dismissal of teacher Koneshe,” the chief said.

“Teacher Koneshe was a good man and I need to know why he is no longer at school.”
“I suggest that all teachers in this school should be removed or transferred so that we start afresh with new teachers and a new principal.”
The Ministry of Education said it was not ready to comment.

Rose Moremoholo



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