Protesting students of a high school in KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa has shocked everyone but themselves by including a demand for smoke breaks in the list of their grievances.
Earlier report had indicated that the primary reason for the student protest is grievances with the school administration.
Another report from a local newspaper claims to have an annonymous source who told them learners were upset by rumours the principal was about to be replaced by a “non-African”.
The students have also demanded that more Zulu-speaking teachers be hired by the school.
However, the move to include a daily smoke break between 08:00 and 09:00 in their demands means they are unlikely to find many sympathetic ears to listen to their plight.
“We are not going to be held at ransom by kids. They are supposed to be in class learning, and we will not negotiate with them,” KwaZulu-Natal provincial education spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said, according to Times Live.
“They cannot tell us how to run a department. We are not going to allow this kind of behaviour to flourish at schools. We do not promote such behaviour from our learners and we stand firm against anyone who does this.”
According to The Post, the learners even made two videos of their demands and one of them included footage of a student walking through the teacher’s lounge smoking a cigarette.
“Smoking under the age of 18 is illegal. This is a criminal offence. Pupils seem to have a sense of entitlement and believe they have the right to make these types of demands,” Vee Gani from the KwaZulu-Natal Parents’ Association told the Post.
“This needs to stop. Education in our country is struggling. Pupils need to respect teaching and learning at school.”
Student’s demands are unlikely to be met
The conversation has already moved way beyond the students demands and is already on what the consequences of their actions will be.
So it appears highly unlikely the protesting students will be placated in this matter.
However, as they are younger than 18, which is the legal smoking age in South Africa, they really do not have a leg to stand on in this case and it boggles the mind trying to figure out how they thought they might get away with it.
“I want to assure concerned parents and guardians that the safety of learners and educators are of paramount importance to the school governing body,” said chairperson Niven Pillay.
“We will work very closely with the department and the manange team of the school to ensure that corrective and preventive action is taken as soon as possible.”