Equal Education (EE) calls on Western Cape Education MEC Donald Grant to inform the 27 schools facing closure if they will be closed at the end of this year. By missing the 28 September 2012 deadline, he has negatively impacted the Western Cape Education Department’s (WCED) ability to ensure that acceptable arrangements are made for learners who have to move schools.
According to the Western Cape Guidelines for the Closure of Non-Viable Public Schools, “The decision to close a public school must be taken by the end of the third term of the school year to ensure that the WCED has sufficient time to give effect to the Minister’s decision should he/she decide to close the school.”
Western Cape schools closed for the third term on 28 September 2012. If the MEC had been following the WCED Guidelines a decision should have been rendered by 28 September 2012, the last day of the third school term.
With a mere 8 weeks to go before the end of the school year, the MEC’s delay in decision making has adverse implications for the WCED’s ability to effectively implement the MEC’s decision, should he decide that any of the schools must close.
The HOD, Ms Vinjevold, has made it clear that the proposed learner placement plan is a “work in progress” and that the Department will “finalise the plans in consultation with all concerned when the [MEC] makes his final decision on the proposed closures in September.”
The WCED Guidelines requires the Department to assist all affected learners by “enrolling them in other schools as efficiently as possible and ensuring that the necessary support is given to these learners. This process should be completed before the end of the school year in which notice of the Minister’s decision appears in the Provincial Gazette.”
Given the large numbers of learners that potentially stand to be affected, the WCED will be faced with a herculean task to ensure that proper alternative arrangements are made so that, in the event of a closure being justified, learners’ rights and interests are adequately safeguarded.
In addition all concerned, including the general public, ought to be placed in a position to adequately scrutinise the WCED’s final placement plans to ensure the sufficiency of alternative arrangements.
EE is concerned that, given the level of logistics required to properly implement a decision to close a school, the delay by the MEC has resulted in affected learners, parents and school communities being severely prejudiced. Not only do these learners have inadequate time to prepare themselves to attend new schools they have also unfairly lost the right to apply to attend the schools of their choice for next year since the application process closed on 7 September 2012.
EE therefore calls on the MEC to make a decision on the fate of the 27 schools.
Yoliswa Dwane (EE Chairperson) on 072 342 7747
Kate Wilkinson (Media Officer) on 082 326 5353/ firstname.lastname@example.org