On 16 October 2012, the Western Cape Minister of Education, Mr. Donald Grant, announced the closure of 20 schools out of the 27 identified some months ago. I responded in a sitting of Western Cape Parliament today, on behalf of the ACDP.
We accept that the effective and efficient management of public education necessarily includes balancing opposing demands and priorities.
Given this reality, in principle the ACDP does not oppose school closures per se, as long as all other intervention options have been exhausted and only after thorough, open and transparent engagement with affected stake-holders
A number of concerns exist relating to this issue
Process lacked tangible sensitivity:
- that schools are more than just cold buildings of teaching and learning, they are home to many, who spend most of the day there, most days of the week, for years. The histories and development of most rural settlements can be traced back to the first church and the first school. To close the school ignores that and disrespects the legacy of that schools impact on the individuals and the surrounding community. And now in some cases, denies those communities that privilege into the future.
- the timing of this announcement – and its potential disruptive effect on end-of-year preparations at the affected schools
- allegations re consultation – dismissed through generalized responses.
Reasons for closure:
- The provision and maintenance of school infrastructure remains the states firstly, not the schools. Disingenuous to cite aging, insufficient or substandard infrastructure as reasons for closure.
- Direct link – infrastructure problems – dwindling learner numbers and poor performance.
- Evidence needed – moving teachers and learners fixes fundamental problems in poorly-performing schools – shifts.
- The ACDP believes that much more should have been done to pre-identify these highly emotive and divisive drivers, to take all possible actions to prevent and counter such allegations, ensuring that these are baseless.
- ANC’s claims that this is a war against poor black schools is negated by COSATU who proposed the closure of 4 such schools and over 1000 closed by ANC across RSA.
Put decision on hold
allow for broader consultation and the provision of details relating to:
- the factors (per school), that influenced each decision.
- Evidence that such actions have notably improved the education outcomes for the effected learners.
- Infrastructural and capacity interventions undertaken by the WCED into these 20 schools