Anthony Benadie MPL
Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga
A single, inclusive matric farewell is now the only option for learners of the Hendrina Combined School, and any attempt by some parents to host a privately organised and funded farewell for Afrikaans learners must be abandoned.
Hendrina residents, learners, parents, community leaders and teachers were unanimous in their stance that a single, diverse and all inclusive matric farewell was their only desire – a position held by the DA since the beginning of this saga.
The DA hosted the community public meeting, to discuss the intention of hosting two matric farewells for English (organised by the school) and Afrikaans learners (organised by some parents), after the chairperson of the SGB rejected a DA offer to facilitate formal discussions about this matter.
Citing political opportunism, the SGB Chairperson also rejected the DA’s offer to assist in organising the matric farewell – an offer made after a shortage of funds were said to be the cause of this situation.
During the public meeting, the DA presented a chronological account of interactions between myself and the school, followed by an interactive session with community members. Everyone present shared the view that only one matric farewell should be held and that no set of circumstances can justify the holding of a separate matric farewell for certain learners – no matter who pays for it.
One parent accounted that while no racism has ever been experienced by her children at the school, it was sad that learners study together and play sport together, but now apparently cannot attend a matric farewell together.
A teacher present, declared a clear intention that only one matric farewell should be held, and that the school should host one farewell to which all learners are invited. This will be decided by the SGB on Tuesday next week, followed by a parents meeting on Wednesday next week.
While this is a clear step in the right direction as punted by the DA, it must be assured that while a single farewell is hosted, all intentions to simultaneously host a private function must be abandoned.
The DA reiterated our commitment to assist in the hosting and organising the matric farewell, and it is now up to the school and its SGB to accept our offer.
This distasteful situation should never have happened, as a better sense of judgement and leadership could have avoided this situation at the outset. The SGB now has a last unique opportunity to ensure that all the matriculants of Hendrina Combined School have a single matric farewell.
A matric farewell is a highlight of any learner’s school career, a night to be enjoyed with fellow learners, friends and teachers, and must be enjoyed and cherished by all.