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MORE than 4 000 pupils will be affected if the Western Cape Education Department closes 27 schools.
The schools facing closure are primarily small primary schools in rural areas that don’t charge fees and teach in Afrikaans.
The schools previously received a notice from Education MEC Donald Grant announcing his intention to close them.
Reasons for their notice included dwindling pupil numbers, insufficient chance of future growth, the use of multigrade teaching and the poor quality of teaching and learning.
While the WCED refused to release the list of schools to be closed so “as to not compromise the process”, the list has since been leaked to the media.
In Metro Central – the areas closest to the city centre – the schools facing closure are very different from their rural counterparts.
Two are English schools and one is a dual Afrikaans and English school. School fees range between R150 and R3 600, and school sizes start at 252 and increase to 653.
There are also three secondary schools in this district which face closure – one is the worst performing school in the province, with a 2011 matric pass rate of 18.9 percent.
David Lawn, deputy principal of Beauvallon Secondary in Valhalla Park, said the school’s community was unhappy about its possible closure. It achieved a 24 percent matric pass last year.
“We are going to fight it. We think it’s not the right approach… to close the school, it’s like giving up. Is there no other intervention they could take?”
At Zonnebloem Nest in Walmer Estate, which achieved an 85 percent matric pass rate, dwindling pupil numbers were the reason for its proposed numbers. Its principal, Jonty Damsell, said they would fight the school’s potential closure.
Willem Basson, principal of Urionskraal NGK Primary in Vanrhynsdorp, said dwindling pupils numbers was also given as the reason for its imminent closure.
Tonko Bosman Primary School principal Eugene van Graan said the school’s community was not opposed to its closure.
He said the Somerset West school had poor infrastructure and low levels of pupil enrolment.
Bergrivier Primary School principal Rosinda Swarts said it was being considered for closure because it made use of multigrade teaching for its 57 pupils.
She said possible closure would be fought to prevent pupils from having to wake up early and travel long distances to get to another school.
Cosatu and the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) are expected to hold a press conference today to discuss their opposition to the schools’ closure and the WCED’s “highhanded manner in which (it) treats the interest of working-class black learners”.
Grant’s spokeswoman, Bronagh Casey, hit back and said Cosatu was cheapening a really challenging decision.
“The Western Cape government has demonstrated time and again its commitment to improving the quality of education for all learners in this province.”
Grant last year sent notices to 10 schools announcing his intention to close them.
Nine of the schools were closed while the tenth, Grootkraal UCC Primary School – which is located on a private farm near the Cango Caves – is at the centre of a court battle in a bid to remain open. About 685 pupils were affected by these closures and accommodated at surrounding schools.
In that same year, 11 new schools were built, seven of which enrolled pupils for the first time.