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Governing bodies agree with school closures

WC MEC Donald Grant says his department has spoken to school governing bodies.

Western Cape Education MEC Donald Grant said some school governing bodies have not objected to their school closures.

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Education MEC Donald Grant on Tuesday said some school governing bodies have not objected to the indefinite closure of their schools.

He announced there would be public hearings held before 27 schools would be closed.

The MEC said he reviewed all submissions made by the governing bodies.

"A number of the school governing bodies have no objection to the closure of their schools."

Grant said the closures of these institutions will not put a lot of money in the department's funds.

"We will save the direct costs. I'm talking about issues like the cost of the lease, the cost of the services, the water, and the electricity. All the direct costs there are going to be marginal saving."

The department cites low pupil numbers and poor performance as their reasons for closure.

Meanwhile, a principal has accused the provincial education department of trying to save money, by shutting down his school.

Zonnebloem Nest is one of 27 institutions that may be decommissioned.

However, headmaster Jonty Damsel is not convinced the public hearings would help.

He said the department could save thousands, because the land, on which his school is situated, is privately owned.

"The department will be required to rent our building which costs R10,000 a month. That is an underlying reason."

He said the closure was just a smoke screen.

"They are labelling us as poor-performing. Our matric pass-rate is 85 percent; our grade 8 to 11 pass-rate is comparable with other high schools in the Western Cape. To us, there is no honesty in this process."

Meanwhile, Grant also addressed vandalism at provincial schools.

He said many Western Cape schools have once again suffered damage over the winter holidays.

The education department said it has received 31 reports of theft and vandalism.

It will cost more than R150,000 to repair the damages.

"In many of the cases it looks as if thieves targeted electrical caballing and copper pipes, in three incidents they targeted the toilets and in another three incidents they targeted the school's kitchen," said Grant.

The most severe case was recorded at a primary school in the Winelands District area where a classroom was completely vandalised.

Grant said communities should do more to protect their schools.

"For every rand we spend fixing vandalism, there is less money for books, or learner transport, or for teacher training and development, which is the point we need to stress. We want to avoid having to spend money unnecessarily."