Schäfer accused of being disingenuous about comments on the Forest Village illegal school saga
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Western Cape MEC Debbie Schäfer has been accused of being disingenuous about her remark that children in Forest Village who have been learning under a tree have done so by choice.
On Tuesday, Schäfer delivered her education budget speech. It is at the same event that the issue of the Forest Village children came to raise.
Frustrated parents who have had enough with the non-placement of their children demanded that the WCED should build schools in the area for their children. Over the years, more people have moved to live in Forest Village, which also meant that schools in the area would be over capacity.
ANC deputy chief Whip in the provincial legislature Muhammad Khalid Sayed tweeted that Schäfer said “children are learning under trees by choice as they were offered places”.
In Education Budget Vote Debate in @WCProvParl, Education MEC responds to us on Forest Village by saying children are learning under trees by choice as they were offered places. What she doesn't say is that they were offered places in Khayelistsha schools that are already full— Khalid Sayed MPL (@MKhalidSayed) March 30, 2021
“We are not surprised at all by these remarks. They expose the MEC’s nonchalant attitude when it comes to placement of learners from poor areas and indicative of the DA’s liberal policies. It is the fault of the provincial government that no planning was made for a new school when they built Forrest Village,” said Sayed.
He said Schäfer was being disingenuous when she said pupils chose to learn under trees.
“What she omits to mention is that these learners were offered places in Khayelitsha schools that are already overcrowded. Every parent wants the best education for children. The MEC must learn from Gauteng where former model C schools are forced to enrol learners,” said Sayed.
Schäfer in her speech said: "It is important not to draw a parallel between the situation in Klapmuts, and that of the illegal ’school’ operating in Forest Village. The latter is a case of a group of people trying to strongarm the WCED into hiring select individuals by using children as pawns."
Schäfer’s spokesperson, Kerry Mauchline, said the WCED has been confronted by similar attempts like this in the past, where certain teachers are vying for jobs through this kind of action by community members.
“Some of the children had already been placed in schools but their parents took them out of the school they were registered in to attend the illegal school.
“The WCED had originally offered at the end of last year various alternatives for placement – both primary and high school. Every offer has been denied, or would only be accepted if we employed their ’existing teachers’ and created a ’new school’ on the premises of another. We cannot simply appoint teachers or create new schools in such a manner,” she said.
Mauchline said since addressing parents directly some parents have taken up the department’s alternative school placement options, including the Apex Primary School offer.
She confirmed that the number of children not placed at schools stood at 5 741.