Western Cape communities will have time to voice their concerns before a decision is made on whether to close 27 under-performing schools, education MEC Donald Grant said on Wednesday.
“The final decision to close a school rests with me... but before any decision of this nature is made, prescribed public participation procedures and processes must be followed,” he said.
The relevant school governing bodies had been notified of possible closure and had until Friday to make written and oral representations. Grant would then decide whether to proceed with the closure and, if so, arrange a public hearing to allow the communities to state their case.
These hearings were expected to take place from September.
“The reasons for considering schools for possible closure will differ on a case-by-case basis, as each school has unique circumstances within which it operates,” he said.
“Some of these reasons include... ageing school infrastructure, dwindling learner numbers and persistently poor learner outcomes.”
Grant said the decision to close a school was not taken lightly and he cared about each pupil, regardless of race.
However, parents should not worry about where their children would go as the department was building new schools and replacing old ones.
“To date, the department has completed the building of 23 new schools and has replaced eight schools,” Grant said.
By 2013, the province would have built 26 new schools and replaced 21. This amounted to about 57,000 pupils that could be accommodated.
He said the province had dramatically decreased the number of underperforming schools since 2009, as defined by the national government.
In 2009, 85 schools were identified. This dropped to 78 in 2010 and 30 in 2011.
Grant said it would take between five and 10 years to “play catch-up” to where the department wanted to be. - Sapa