Mixed reaction to illegal schools in Ivory Park

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Thursday sent a strong message to those running bogus learning facilities across the province.

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JOHANNESBURG - There has been mixed reaction from community members in Ivory Park after several schools in area were shut down for operating illegally.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Thursday sent a strong message to those running bogus learning facilities across the province.

The MEC visited two schools in Tembisa - one had several branches across the township with pupils learning in informal houses and backrooms, while another had over 1,000 pupils at a makeshift school.

Several teachers failed to produce the mandatory South African Council of Education credentials and the necessary work permits required.

Lesufi said the unregistered schools could therefore not issue pupils with credible or valid qualifications and robbed thousands of children of their right to education.

“Learners are being taught from Grade R to Grade 10 and then after that they are thrown on the streets because they can’t go to Grade 11 and 12. And if you can’t go to Grades 11 and 12, it means that the ten years of education becomes meaningless.”

Steps have since been taken by the department to shut down the Wisdom English Private School, which has been operating illegally since 2015; while the True Christian Combined School, which opened its doors only two weeks ago, was closed with immediate effect.

The MEC expressed concern about the conditions of the unregistered schools.

“There are back rooms that are used to sleep at night and then being converted to classrooms during the day. This is very unhygienic.”

The department said thousands of schools across the province have been operating as private schools without the necessary documentation.

However, the news came as a surprise to many residents who claim they were unaware that the school was a sham.

“Something needs to be done. It’s almost the end of the year and what are we supposed to do now? As parents, we are concerned because what were they (the schools) doing. Who was responsible? Something is fishy,” said one resident.

Another resident slammed the Department of Education for closing the schools.

“They have been treated unfairly. They could have given us a warning and closed the school in an amicable way, instead of coming in here the way they did – locking everyone up.”

Close to 20 people were arrested, including educators and a principal. The group face charges of running an unregistered school and acting in violation of the Immigration Act.

Meanwhile, officials in the Gauteng Education Department have been given 48 hours to investigate the illegal schools.

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