Matopo High School in Matabeleland South expelled 15 learners last week and put another 10 on punishment for ‘improper association’ after a group of boys sneaked into the girls’ dormitory.
This matter did not go down well with parents of some of these learners, as they insist the school did not conduct a proper investigation.
According to the school, ‘improper association’ warrants immediate removal through expulsion but parents claim the school made a hasty decision on the matter.
Sources told CITE the school authorities believe on April 24, 2021, several boys connived with girls and visited their dormitory between 1 am and 3 am, where some of them allegedly indulged in sex.
After the alleged act, the boys snuck back to their dormitory.
The incident was discovered two weeks later after one of the students reportedly made a tip-off to the school authorities who expelled the learners.
But their parents argue that expulsion is not viable, given that children spent over a year out of school due to Covid-19 where they were ‘also exposed to a lot of things, so the school should have been more supportive.’
“Where does a Form Four pupil get a place for a new start second term without further jeopardising the future of the child?”
Reached for comment, the Director of Communication and Advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Taungana Ndoro acknowledged receipt of the issue and said investigations were still ongoing.
“We are investigating that issue, I’m sure by next week we will have a determination on the matter,” he said.
In interviews with CITE, parents said they were informed by the school to attend a disciplinary hearing concerning their children on May 17, 2021.
“At the school, we were informed the school made a decision to expel our children with immediate effect. We apologised on our children’s behalf and appealed for a lesser penalty since they were first offenders and were set to write their November exams. But the school refused,” said some of the parents.
The parents insist the school failed to carry out due diligence in hearing the matter as their children presented another side to what happened on the night in question.
“Our children said they were asleep when a group of boys came to their dormitories through a window. Apparently, there was no electricity that night. The boys woke up the girls in some dormitories and toured the place. Some girls woke up due to the noise whilst others were asleep. But our children insist they were surprised by the boys,” said the parents.
The ‘visit’ by the boys to the girls’ dormitories exposed the lack of security at the school, noted the parents.
“Where was security for the boys to leave their dormitory, cross the road, pass the main gate that is guarded, pass through the school area before arriving at the girl’s enclosure. This must be the route they took back, where were the guards? The school did not answer us on this. The school hires guards who guard and patrol during the night, where were they? The school has boarding masters and mistresses where were they? Clearly, someone did not do their job,” they said.
It is alleged these boys threatened the girls not to make any reports about the matter to the school authorities as they would “make their life difficult at school or even during the holiday.”
The parents argued that without wanting to take the sides of their children, the school’s disciplinary process was unfair.
“Our daughters were made to appear before a male-dominated disciplinary committee. There was no sensitivity and these teachers called our children some names before the investigation concluded,” they claimed.
“When our children were expelled they were excluded from others, denied an opportunity to sit for exams in the same room with others or even dine with peers. They were also refused the chance to say bye to their friends.”
“There was no uniformity in the punishment as well. Others were given appeals, others were punished while some were given an option for expulsion termed withdrawal from boarding or exclusion then given transfers.”
The parents claimed Matopo’s disciplinary committee was more worried about protecting the reputation of the Brethren In Christ Church (BICC) which runs the school rather than the learners.
“The punishment levelled against these children is very harsh. There is no way a school can bundle up and expel over 15 children, more so the girl child whom the school should have protected in all this especially as they were within their ‘safe space’, which was violated in this scenario.