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THE worst-performing school in the province, Peak View Secondary in Athlone with 650 pupils, should not be closed and he will fight to keep it open, its principal says.
It is one of the 27 schools across the province that MEC for Education Donald Grant has notified he intends to close.
Reasons for the possible closures include dwindling pupil numbers, no prospect of sufficient growth, and poor quality teaching and learning.
Principal Oswald de Villiers said yesterday he hadn’t expected that the department would take such a drastic step as to close the school.
“We were shocked, we were dismayed. The parents are behind the school to keep it open and have suggested a march to the Western Cape Education Department headquarters.”
De Villiers said an important intervention made at the school this year had been the introduction of Xhosa as first language.
Before, pupils who spoke Xhosa at home and to their friends had been expected to write the English first language exams, leading to the large number of failures.
Results had improved dramatically, De Villiers said. Seventy percent of Grade 12 pupils had passed the March exams, with a 100 percent pass in the Xhosa as first language paper.
Bronagh Casey, spokeswoman for Grant, said the MEC’s recommendation that the school be closed had been based on:
l Poor matric results over a number of years.
l Declining academic performance in all grades.
l A large number of pupils (66 percent) coming from outside the community.
l A very low pass rate throughout in English as first language.
“There has been no decision yet to close the school. (Grant) will make his final decision only once all prescribed processes and requirements have been met,” Casey said.
“A final decision on the school’s future will ... be guided by what is in the best interests of the learners.”
The matric pass rate had plunged from 66.7 percent in 2008 to 8.9 percent last year.
Casey said that if it was decided to close the school, the pupils would be accommodated at other schools within 3km.
“There are no current plans for the school building.”
Grant said recently that in two years, 23 schools had been built. At eight others, buildings constructed of inappropriate materials had been replaced.
The department, with funding from the national government, expected to complete the construction of another three schools and replace buildings at 13 others this year.
The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union did not support the closing of schools, its provincial secretary, Jonovan Rustin, said.
“We are unhappy about schools being closed. Some of the reasons do not make educational sense. The MEC needs to reconsider the closing of schools.”
NGO Equal Education spokeswoman Yoliswa Dwane said: “It is hard to object completely to the idea of closing schools. We will look at each case individually.”
Equal Education was opposed to the closure of Peak View because the school appeared to be improving its results.
“If the school is going to succeed, then the government should give it a chance,” Dwane said. “Has the government intervened and was this intervention adequate? We believe this intervention was not adequate.”
Dwane said it was “problematic” that the department had not revealed the full list of schools to be closed.