Thousands of black students returned to school in some African townships near Johannesburg in South Africa on Thursday (22 July).
CUs PAN FROM Scholl sign TO Deserted school buildings in Soweto, Johannesburg (2 shots)
SV INTERIOR PAN Empty classroom
LV Africans outside shops
SVs INTERIOR People buying food (3 shots)
SVs Children playing in street (2 shots)
CU Soweto community leader, R. Maponya speaking
TRANSCRIPT: REPORTER: "What in your opinion is the reason for the schools not being full today?"
SEQ. 6: MAPONYA: "The reason I think is due to fact that the notice was rather a bit short to announce that schools are now open, and one other thing is due to the fact that parents have taken the children out of town for their safety."
REPORTER: "When do you expect that children will be back and schools will be back in operation?"
MAPONYA: "By Monday I think all schools will definitely have a very good attendance."
The rioting last month was triggered by controversy over the enforced use of Afrikaans as a teaching language. The government has since backed down and said schools could choose between using English or Afrikaans in the classroom. The latest trouble had a different emphasis. Indian and white traders, as well as government offices, were the target of black demonstrators.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Thousands of black students returned to school in some African townships near Johannesburg in South Africa on Thursday (22 July). But in Soweto, Johannesburg's principal black area, the classrooms were deserted.
SYNOPSIS: Soweto was the scene of the race riots five weeks ago that left about 180 people dead, and closed the schools. The decision to re-open them came in an apparent reversal of government thinking. The Justice Minister, James Kruger, last week announced that they would stay closed because of fears that agitators planned new riots to coincide with the new school term.
Then he held a meeting with black community leaders and the government changed its mind, despite fresh rioting in three areas in the past week. Soweto itself remained quiet. The black leaders agreed to try and prevent new disturbances.
Large scale absenteeism was reported in the majority of Soweto schools on Thursday. Various reasons were given. One headmaster said the children were under the influence of outside elements and afraid to go to school. But a Soweto community leader, Mr. R. Maponya, attributed the absences to different reasons.