Two of the 17 schools earmarked for closure by former Western Cape education MEC Donald Grant have reportedly received informal notices for their impending closure. A lengthy court battle that has been waging since the move was announced in 2012 came to a head in December, after the Supreme Court of Appeal granted the WCED the go ahead with the closures, with the exception of Beauvallon High School.
But according to Save Our School’s Vanessa Le Roux, this has not stopped the department from issuing informal notices to both Beauvallon High, as well as Protea Primary School. She said the organization would be keeping tabs on whether any of the other earmarked schools received similar notifications, and would be ready to take the matter further with their lawyers.
“What we fail to understand is that Beauvallon was one of the schools that won the appeals court battle, yet they were one of the schools that received notices,” she said.
Despite the continued uncertainty over their futures, Le Roux said the teachers and students at the schools in question were carrying on as per normal, with classes continuing.
Although the narrative has been that the closures are partly linked to poor registration and attendance, she doubted this was the case, especially since Beauvallon and Protea catered to 400 and 300 students respectively.
“We don’t know what the criteria for the amount of learners must be, but at the same time we are also battling to get the figures of the classes down, because all of the schools in the metro are sitting with overcrowded classrooms of 40 to 45 (pupils),” she said.
Whilst admitting the current MEC would be within her right to close the schools, she said this could not be conducted without public participation and dialogue, something which had failed to happen. Furthermore, she was puzzled as to why the WCED would take such a drastic step when overcrowding was still rampant at schools.
“In December we met with the MEC to notify her that in the year 2013, 1046 children in the Mitchell’s Plain area alone did not attend school for the year. There were no places for them, and the schools were overcrowded,” she noted, adding that little had been done in the way of the promise to set up mobile classrooms to address this.
Save Our Schools has said they would likely take the matter further once letters were officially submitted to the schools. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)