Warning bells over school closure ruling

Equal Education says the decision to keep 17 school facing closure open should be seen as a warning.

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 - Non-government Organisation (NGO) Equal Education says a court ruling, which has thrown a lifeline to 17 Western Cape schools, should be seen as a warning.

The Western Cape High Court ruled the schools should keep their doors open, after the Provincial Education Department planned to close the facilities for various reasons, including dwindling pupil numbers and poor performance.

Equal Education's Lisa Draga believes the ruling serves as a warning.

"The most significant thing to take away from the judgement is the emphasis that the court placed on ensuring that community consultation happens in an appropriate manner; where the community is given all the information needed, in order to meaningfully contribute to the process."

She said the judgement also proved the importance of schools in civil society.

"The judgement highlighted how important schools are for a community's identity and how sensitive the issues of school closures are."

Meanwhile, MEC Donald Grant says that while the department was not successful, it still has the mandate to close more schools.

"There is nothing which precludes us moving and closing other schools. The majority of the judges are questioning the process but not the merits of my decision."