Cosatu unhappy with school closures

FILE PICTURE: A school that is no longer in use. Picture: Carmel Loggenberg/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Trade Union federation Cosatu has accused the Western Cape Education Department of having its own agenda in shutting down 27 schools.

The Federation and South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) are called on the department to attend a meeting to discuss alternatives.

Education MEC Donald Grant has cited lackluster pupil numbers and sluggish performance.

But Cosatu's Tony Ehrenreich is not buying it.

“Many of these schools that are closing for low numbers have as low numbers as many of the white schools in these areas,  but none of them have been threatened with closure. So it’s clearly a different agenda than what the DA says it is.”

He said children living in the most vulnerable areas are the ones who are affected the most.

“We need a framework that looks at how we rationalise and change education, so that it does respond to the needs of everyone.”

Meanwhile, Grant said school governing bodies and communities have the right to challenge his decision in court.

Officials have served 27 schools in the province with decommissioning notices.

The governing boards have until Friday to respond to the proposed closure.

Grant said he will be making his final decision in September, after a public participation process.

“My final decision is therefore made with restraint and is ultimately guided by what is lawful and what is in the best interest of our learners.”

Meanwhile, Peak View Secondary School in Athlone is one of 27 schools which may be decommissioned, but its governing body said pupils are refusing to be displaced.

Chairman Shaun Jacobs said teachers have been unsettled by the news. 

“They are also unsure what the future holds for them. Their minds are scattered on their futures.”

He said some pupils' safety would be in jeopardy if they had to walk to other schools.

“They will be making provision for them in the surround schools, but these areas are infested with gangs”

(Edited by Tamsin Wort)