Forest Village children are learning under trees is because they were rejected by locals schools as they did not previously do Afrikaans as a subject. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)
Forest Village children are learning under trees is because they were rejected by locals schools as they did not previously do Afrikaans as a subject. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Forest Village pupils rejected ’because they did not study Afrikaans’

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Apr 1, 2021

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One of the reasons why Forest Village children are learning under trees is because they were rejected by locals schools as they did not previously do Afrikaans as a subject.

This is according to education advocacy group, Equal Education (EE).

“Existing schools in the area are also contributing to the problem in that they refuse to accept learners that have not previously done Afrikaans,” said EE researcher, Stacey Jacobs.

The community of Forest Village is made up of families that have been relocated from Langa, Nyanga, Gugulethu, Crossroads, Khayelitsha, Athlone and Mfuleni to their current location. Pupils and teachers are currently running a school under trees; using chairs, buckets, crates and other makeshift means for chairs and tables.

Jacobs said EE together with its legal wing, Equal Education Law Centre, wrote to Western Cape Education (WCED) MEC Debbie Schäfer regarding the matter of unplaced learners in Forest Village.

“There is a constitutional and statutory obligation on the WCED to engage the community and come up with a comprehensive and reasonable plan to ensure that the learners’ rights to basic education and their best interests are considered and ensured,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs said EE initially stepped in to help mediate between the parents and the WCED and the Metro East Education District office. She said during these engagements it was found that nearby schools were oversubscribed (full) and parents were unable to afford transport pupils to attend former schools.

The community late last year told EE that the district office had promised to send mobile classrooms but that promise was not kept.

“There is a clear disconnect between the district and schools - where parents have been advised by the district to take their children to nearby schools, they are told that the school is oversubscribed when they arrive.

“ In our view, in instances where communities are relocated there is an urgent need for cooperation and communication between the various relevant government departments, and for the MEC and HoD to ensure that there are adequate and suitable schools and placements for learners within the areas they have relocated to,” said Jacobs.

On Monday, the provincial ANC accused Schäfer of saying the Forest Village pupils has chosen to learn under trees.

ANC deputy chief Whip in the provincial legislature Muhammad Khalid Sayed tweeted: “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 Khayelitsha schools that are already full.”

Her spokesperson Kerry Mauchline: “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.”

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