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Joy as court orders urgent repairs to vandalised Uitzig High

Cape Times
The Western Cape Education Department and the school governing body of Uitzig High have agreed to suspend further court action until the department has completed formal processes required to close the school.

The Cape High Court made the agreement an order of court (on Friday).

We welcome the agreement and will now continue with the consultation process required by the South African Schools Act.

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PROTEST: Uitzig High pupils marched to the Western Cape Provincial Legislature to hand over a memorandum to keep their school open. The Western Cape Education Department planned to close it as vandalism made it unsafe. Picture: David Ritchie

Today’s (Friday) agreement follows an application by the SGB on February 22 for an order obliging the WCED to rebuild the school and an interdict to prevent the department from moving learners to nearby schools until this was done.

The parties involved agreed at the time to postpone the hearing to March 16.

The agreement did not prevent the department from continuing with formal procedures to close the school, in line with the SA Schools Act.

The consultative process has now started with a letter from the Western Cape Education Minister informing the SGB of her intention to consider closing the school on June 30, in terms of Section 33 of the Act.

She requested the SGB to make representations on the matter.

The parties involved agreed (on Friday) to allow the department and the minister to complete the process of consultation in terms of the Act.

The department will not seek to move learners or teachers to nearby schools while this process is under way.

The WCED agreed to maintain mobile ablution facilities needed for the normal functioning of the school, and to restore electricity supplies to mobile classrooms currently in use.

The department will provide separate toilets for male and female staff, and provide a source of drinking water for learners and staff.

The WCED will provide two security guards on a 24-hour basis and engage law enforcement and the relevant private security company to try and facilitate the security of learners, staff and the premises.

The SGB may elect to continue with its application to the court, in terms of the agreement, whatever the outcome of the school closure process.

The WCED and the minister reserved the right to apply for a variation of the order due to any material changes of circumstances, for example, an increase in vandalism or safety risks.

The minister said in her letter to the SGB that reasons for the proposed closure included low learner numbers and the condition of the buildings, which had been severely vandalised despite efforts to curb this.

These conditions have continued, despite investment in emergency repairs in 2012 and 2015, and additional security. Nearby schools can accommodate the 91 currently at the school, which accommodated 460 learners four years ago. The minister will consider representations by all interested parties before deciding on closing the school, in line with procedure.

Brian Schreuder

Head of Education in the Western Cape

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