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Media Release

8 March, 2007

Clashes: WCED closes school temporarily

Statement by Cameron Dugmore, MEC for Education in the Western Cape

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has temporarily stopped schooling of the Masibambisane High School in Delft, following two days of clashes between learners and the SAPS during which shots were fired, resulting in at least three learners being treated for minor injuries, and one having been arrested and held overnight.

The learners and some teachers are reportedly dissatisfied with the decrease in the staff establishment, following a sharp decline in learner numbers this year.

The WCED allocates posts on the basis of learner numbers. In 2005 the school had 47 teachers for its 1,565 learners; in 2006, it had 48 teachers for its 1,600 learners. This year however, the number of learners dropped with 400 to 1,200. Therefor it qualifies for a staff establishment of only 38 teachers.

Even on the basis of this current module, the school still has an average far beyond the norm, which is a learner:teacher ratio of 31,5:1. The school has only 36 classes available.

Yesterday, about 150 learners took to the streets to protest against the decreased staff. When the police arrived to restore order, the learners responded by throwing stones, and in the process caused damages to vehicles, windows and whiteboards. The extent of the damages is still not clear.

The learners this morning again clashed with members of the police, ostensibly because of the arrest and detention of a 15-year-old learner of the school. He was released this morning.

In the light of concern for the safety and security of learners and teachers, the WCED’s Education and Management Development Centre (EMDC) Metropolitan North office today decided that the school be dismissed earlier, and that there will be no school tomorrow (ie Friday 09 March) either.

Officials from the WCED are assisting the school with a revised time-table, and are working with members of the School Governing Body (SGB) and the Representative Council of Learners (RCL) to ensure that school can resume to normal when learner arrive next week.

In the meantime, allegations of teachers instigating the violent behaviour of the learners by spreading false information is seen as serious, said MEC Dugmore. He said if any evidence of unprofessional conduct is produced, the teacher(s) will be dealt with in terms of the necessary disciplinary procedures.

For enquiries, contact Gert Witbooi:  082 550 3938, or gwitbooi@pgwc.gov.za.

Issued by:
Gert Witbooi
Media Liaison Officer
Office of the MEC for Education
Western Cape
Tel: 021 467 2523
Fax: 021 425 5689

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