Media Release

22 August, 2012

WCED engages Cosatu on proposed school closures.

Statement by Penny Vinjevold, Head of Education in the Western Cape

The Western Cape Education Department had a fruitful and robust discussion with Cosatu today (Wednesday, 22 August 2012) on the proposed closure of schools.

The WCED engaged Cosatu at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) in terms of a notice filed by the labour federation.

John Lyners, Deputy-Director General, Institutional Development and Coordination, WCED, and I engaged with Cosatu on behalf of the department.

The WCED will engage further with Cosatu via a Nedlac subcommittee. Key points for discussion will include how to ensure quality and equality in education.

The WCED's proposals are designed to meet these objectives.

The aim of the proposed school closures is to improve opportunities for the learners concerned. The department would like to place the learners in schools that are better equipped to provide a quality education.

Most of the schools concerned are very small rural schools that have dwindling numbers and do not have the resources to deliver the full curriculum. They typically offer multigrade teaching, with more than one grade in a class.

Should any of these schools be closed, we plan to place the learners in schools that offer single-grade classes, with one teacher per grade, and better access to quality facilities and activities.

Reasons for the proposed closure of schools in urban districts include dwindling numbers, the poor physical condition of these schools, and poor academic performance in certain cases.

Should any of these schools be closed, the department would like to place these learners in schools that are well maintained, have better facilities, are well managed, achieve better results, and offer a wider range of sporting and cultural activities.

Teachers would typically follow learners to their new schools. Benefits for the teachers at the rural schools concerned would include the support of more colleagues, teaching single-grade classes and easier access to ongoing professional development.

The department has to respond to changing needs. This includes building schools, expanding and maintaining existing schools, merging schools, and closing schools, where this is in the best interests of the learners.

The department is engaging in a comprehensive public consultation process to provide opportunities for interested parties and members of the public to comment on the proposals. Cosatu is welcome to make representations.

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2012 Western Cape Education Department