Cosas to protest over school closures

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high school sep 14 Independent Newspapers

Cape Town - The Congress of SA Students says protests against the intended closure of 27 schools can be expected in the Western Cape from this week.

Cosas provincial secretary Samkelo Mqomboti said the level of unhappiness among pupils about the intended closures was very high.

In a joint statement by Cosas’s national office and Cosas Western Cape on Friday, the organisation accused the provincial government of refusing to be considerate of the views of pupils in the public participation process on the closures.

“Should such an offensive act to disrupt our schools proceed, the political brute of an education MEC must know that we are more than ready to also mobilise the same learners to peaceful protests or acts of civil disobedience at schools to which anyone associated with him goes,” said the statement.

Mqomboti said it was the provincial education department’s intention to close the 27 schools and the department would go ahead with it.

He said the provincial education department should fix the problems at the schools concerned.

“We already have overcrowding at schools. They (the department) must fix the problems on a school-by-school basis, not come with closures as a blanket solution.”

He said protests against the proposed closures would start this week.

Bronagh Casey, spokeswoman for Education MEC Donald Grant, said the aim of the school closures was to improve opportunities for the pupils concerned.

“We would like to place these learners in schools that are better equipped to provide a quality education.”

She said the ANC and Cosas’s opposition to school closures was mindless and misleading.

“It is hard to believe the cries of the ANC and Cosas on the issue of school closures when you consider that the very power of provincial ministers of education to close non-viable public schools was included in national legislation and national guidelines developed and passed by the ANC and adhered to by the law-abiding government of the Western Cape.

“Are Cosas going to oppose the KZN Education Department’s recent announcement that hundreds of small non-viable schools would be closed in that province?”

Western Cape Education Department spokesman Paddy Attwell said Grant would make his final decision on closures at the end of September after considering all representations.

“He will base his decision on whether the move will benefit the learners in each case. Cosas is welcome to submit its representations.”

Public hearings on the intended closures are expected to start on Saturday, when hearings for Peak View Secondary in Athlone and Atwood Primary in Hanover Park will be held. - Cape Argus

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