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Parents of pupils at two of the schools set for closure in a controversial decision that has seen the provincial education department come in for plenty of flak, say the action is robbing the children of their right to an education.
This emerged yesterday during hearings regarding Athwood Primary School in Hanover Park and Peak View Senior Secondary School in Athlone - the first two in a series to hear why the department should not close 27 schools across the province.
Earlier this year, the department announced its intention to close the schools by the end of the year, due to dwindling pupil numbers, crumbling infrastructure or academic under-performance.
About 120 people gathered at Mount View High School to oppose the closure of Athwood Primary. Edna Adams, chairwoman of the Athwood Primary School Governing Body (SGB), said the department’s plans were a direct violation of the constitution and the children’s rights. “The department has not sat down with us once to explain their grievances, simply informing us that they planned to close the school because of poor management.”
Bonita Magerman said she sent her daughter Briadene, 10, to Athwood because it was safer than other schools in the area. “My husband was shot … in gang crossfire last year, so the safety of my daughter is my number one priority. If she was moved to another school in the area, it would be much more dangerous for her.”
Meanwhile, about 100 people attended the meeting for Peak View Senior Secondary School, held at the Bridgetown Community Centre, and chaired by education department officials Archie Lewis and John Linus.
Peak View had a matric pass rate of 18 percent last year - the lowest in the province.
Before the meeting, people picketed outside with signs saying “Donald must resign” and “Donald is dof”, referring to Education MEC Donald Grant.
Oral submissions were made by about 20 people and the department offered reasons for the closure – the low matric pass rate, structural problems, poor results for English first language, and the fact that 66 percent of the pupils were from outside the community.
Phumelele Nombelelo, who spoke on behalf of parents of children living in Langa, said they would fight the closure. “We can go all the way to the Constitutional Court,” he said.
Leon Linz, a tutor at Peak View, said the school had implemented changes this year that were showing results.
Around 69 percent of matrics passed the first term, and 74.4 percent the second term. The school’s decision to allow pupils to take Xhosa as a first language had resulted in huge improvements, he added. - Sunday Argus