‘Close schools and we’ll strike’

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IOL tony INLSA Cosatu secretary in the Western Cape Tony Ehrenreich. Photo: Ross Jansen

Cape Town - The Western Cape faces a crippling strike if Education MEC Donald Grant goes ahead with planned schools closures, warned Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich.

Ehrenreich said the strike would be in the interest of pupils.

“Should the MEC continue in the way he has announced, we will go on strike. That will be a huge blow to the economy,” he said at an ANC and Cosatu press briefing in Salt River on Thursday.

Ehrenreich said the strike would cripple the province’s economy and was something that could be avoided.

“Cosatu members don’t go on strike easily, but we will for the best interests of the children,” he said.

Earlier this year, Grant notified 27 schools across the province that they faced possible closure. The majority are small, rural primary schools.

School governing bodies had been asked to submit their response to the proposed closures, public hearings had been held at each school facing closure and members of the public had been asked to send their submissions to Grant.

Rhoda Bazier, member of the ANC’s provincial executive committee and convener of the ANC’s education subcommittee, said the proposed closures had been “dealt a severe blow” by communities’ opposition.

She said more than 10 000 people had attended the meeting and more than 500 submissions had been made.

Bazier questioned whether the decision to close the schools had already been made.

“As much as we think these public hearings were just a rubber-stamping procedure, we want the MEC to give the public the assurance that he will listen to every single oral submission and read every single written submission before making his decision.

“We also want Grant to indicate whether every single word that people said at these public hearings was properly taken down.”

Bronagh Casey, spokeswoman for Grant, said he would now consider all representations made and submitted. “[Grant] will consider each and every representation made to him… and make his final decisions with restraint and taking into account the interests of all concerned, particularly the children.”

The final decision is expected by the end of September or the beginning of October. The ANC provided the Cape Times with a submission made by Marthinus Giliomee, owner of Bloemendal Farm on which Krombeksrivier NGK Primary, in Heidelberg, is situated.

He wrote that he had provided the land, for free, to the school for 30 years and wanted the school to remain open.

“I’m still willing to do it on the same basis so that the children of my farmworkers and those of surrounding farms are able to attend school in peace,” he said.

“In light of this I ask you to consider the survival of the school.”

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