Department closes Bartimea School for the Deaf and Blind after student protests

Jeanette Chabalala, News24

Bloemfontein – Classes were suspended at Bartimea School for the Deaf and Blind in Thaba Nchu in the Free State as protesting students vandalised school property, the department of education said on Tuesday.

“We have decided to close the gates and send the pupils home because in 2014, pupils had burned the school during their protest, so we couldn’t guarantee their safety,” said spokesperson, Howard Ndaba.

Ndaba said pupils at the school had called for the current management to be removed as they claimed some teachers lacked teaching skills.

“They also complained that blind pupils were given preferential treatment, while others complained that they did not understand sign language,” he said.

Ndaba said the department had launched an investigation into allegations made by pupils and the school's management.

He added pupils were expected back at school on April 5 for the start of the new term.