Grant disappointed with court ruling

It is not yet clear whether the Western Cape Education Department will oppose the court decision.

Parents talking to lawyer Jerald Andrews after the Western Cape High Court ruling to keep the 17 school facing closure open indefinitely. 31 July 2013 Picture: Carmel Loggenberg/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape High Court ordered on Wednesday that 17 schools remain open, overturning a decision by the Education MEC Donald Grant to decommission the schools due to dwindling pupil numbers and poor performance.

The province's Education MEC Donald Grant decided to close 20 schools last year, but the decision was overturned by the Western Cape High Court pending a review process.

The Western Cape Education Department says it must still decide whether it will be appealing the judgment.

The department says it's a sad day for the education system following the court's decision to keep the 17 schools open. The MEC maintains his decision was in the best interest of pupils.

Lawyer Jerald Andrews says he's pleased with the ruling.

"I'm just glad that I can stand for a principled case like this, and I'm glad that I'm so far victorious with these issues, fighting for the poor and rural schools and rural communities."

The affected schools say the ruling has given them new life. Beauvallon High acting Principal David Lawn says the school experienced some difficult times during the closure process, but now their faith has been renewed.

"We see the school as an important tool to upgrade the community."

Earlier, the ANC called for Plato to be fired for his decision to close down the schools.

The party said they were against the closures as children would be forced to travel long distances to get to new schools.

They also led a protest against the department.