Limpopo to merge 133 small schools

By Time of article published Mar 18, 2010

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The Limpopo department of education will merge 133 small schools into 53 from Monday, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Matome Mabitsi, senior manager for institutional governance at the department, said it was decided to merge the schools to streamline education in the province.

"Education was not feasible at some of the schools," he said.

The department placed advertisements in various daily newspapers as notice of the final decision to merge the schools in the Waterberg, Vhembe, Sekhukhune, Capricorn and Mopani districts.

"The majority of the schools were small and were not viable," said Mabitsi.

He said there were a number of "ills" at the small schools that needed to be rectified.

"... at some small schools that only qualified to employ one teacher, there were two teachers, and they grouped children of different grades into one class," said Mabitsi.

The department also wanted to better use its assets. Mabitsi said several newly-built schools had become "white elephants" as they were not being used.

"We also deliver food at some schools and in one case we have to contract a service provider to deliver a single loaf of bread to a school, over a long distance, that only has seven learners," he said.

In an advertisement in the Daily Sun newspaper, 11 schools were listed as "non functional". At most of these schools there were two teachers employed, while there were no pupils enrolled at the schools.

There were 13 other schools in the Waterberg and Mopani districts listed with no pupils, but with two or more teachers employed, and some cases even four. At other schools, there were 70 students with only two teachers.

In most cases, the school with the most pupils in the area has been selected as a "merging centre" and children from the other schools would have to travel to these schools from Monday.

Mabitsi said the "non functional" schools listed were schools that in August 2008 had no enrolments "for a while". He said the teachers at these schools were temporarily deployed at other schools.

"They legally remained attached to the institution but were temporarily deployed to other schools," he said.

The merging process was designed to release these teachers from their schools and permanently deploy them at other schools.

The department also wanted to prevent teachers from claiming salaries while doing nothing.

Mabitsi said the MEC for education, Namane Dickson Masemola placed an advertisement of the intention to merge the schools on August 5, 2008, and Thursday's advertisement was a notice that a final decision had been made. - Sapa

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