Cape Town 17-09-12 -Pupils at Zonnebloem Nest senior sign a petition not to close their school - Here Arch bishop Ndungane and Marius Fransman sign petition Picture Brenton Geach

Michelle Jones

Education Writer

ZONNEBLOEM Nest Senior School should remain open as a centre of educational excellence because of its rich heritage, says Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane.

He serves as executive director of the Historic Schools Restoration Project and was asked by the government to champion the restoration of these schools.

Zonnebloem Nest was one of those schools, he said at an ANC media briefing at the school yesterday.

It is one of the 27 schools across the province being considered for closure by Education MEC Donald Grant.

“It was founded as a school for sons of chiefs. Zonnebloem is our heritage.”

Zonnebloem was established for these children under the auspices of the Anglican Church in 1858. A teacher training college was opened in 1865 and the first black teachers graduated four years later. The college later began training coloured teachers.

It was closed in 1980 and the buildings occupied by Roggebaai Teachers Training College, closed nine years later.

In 1992, the buildings were taken over by Zonnebloem Nest, first as an independent school, but reverting to a government school in 1998.

Ndungane said the Anglican Church, which owned the school grounds, had said that the land should always be used for education purposes.

“Under no circumstances are we going to let this [closure] happen. It is our heritage.” He and others keen to prevent the school from possible closure would need to “stiffen our spines”.

“We know that education is a very important aspect for the development of people. It is upon education that the future of this country rests.”

The Western Cape Education Department had cited “very poor condition of the buildings” and “high drop-out rate” as reasons for closure.

ANC provincial leader Marius Fransman said Grant had erred in targetting Zonnebloem for possible closure: “The honourable thing to do is retreat in dignity. It is important to maintain this heritage.”

Fransman said a petition would be circulated at churches, mosques, shopping malls and taxi ranks.

It was planned that 100 000 signatures would be collected within two months. “If our plea doesn’t work, then 100 000 signatures should.”

Afterwards, Fransman and Ndungane joined the school’s principal, Jonty Damsell, for a walk around the school

Damsell said the closure process had impacted on pupils’ performances.

“You can see the kids are distracted. We’re trying to keep the Grade 12s focused but the kids are a little less focused.”

He said the proof would be in the matrics’ results at the end of the year.

It was hoped the class would achieve a 100 percent pass rate – the first in the school’s history.

Damsell said the foundations for that were in place, as only one pupil had failed the June exams.

Grant is expected to announce his decision about which of the 27 schools would be closed at the end of September or in early October.

[email protected]