OVERSIGHT VISIT TO SCHOOLS REVEALS BOTH IMPROVEMENTS AND CONCERNS

PRESS STATEMENT

Cathy Labuschagne MPP

DA Western Cape spokesperson for Education in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament

Honourable Speaker, the topic itself includes a false statement where it states that “The Western Cape Provincial Government closes more schools than what it builds”. In the Cape Argus of yesterday, it is reported that the Western Cape Education Department has closed 62 schools in the past decade. Further investigation shows that between 2002 and 2009 the then ANC administration closed 47 schools and built 46 schools. Between 2009 and 2012 thus far, the WCED under DA administration only closed 15 schools whilst opening more than double that amount, opening 33 schools. Honourable Speaker, I believe it is unparliamentary for a topic to include a false statement and for a member to mislead the House.

Today’s debate should be seen against the backdrop the South Africa’s education system, highlighted by Jonathan Snyman: “the majority of South African children will not emerge from the education system with the skills, expertise, or competence necessary to thrive in South Africa’s increasingly tertiary economy”. The Strategic Objectives for Education in the Western Cape – providing quality education and increasing education outcomes – strives to correct this The Western Cape Ministry realises that to effectively prepare our youth through education, one has to continuously change and improve on every aspect. An example of change bringing improvement is the education U-Amp, launched this morning. Central to the Strategic Objective for Education are the change and improvements achieved through three strategy approach. The plan focusses on increasing numeracy and literacy competence; to increase the number of learners completing school by passing gr.12 and changing our profile of performance based schools – in other words adjusting school infrastructure for better quality outcomes.

The consideration of closing schools are part of a process which is prescribed in both the National Guidelines for the rationalisation of small or non-viable schools of 2009, as well as the Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Act (No. 7 of 2010). The first step of this process is a letter of intent by the Provincial Minister of Education to the schools. Hereafter notices are published in newspapers and the SGB and other interested persons are awarded an opportunity to make representations – public hearings are to be held between 18 August 2012 and 3 September 2012. All these have to happen before consideration can take place and in this case a decision will only be made towards the end of September.

The criteria which are being looked at are vast and the various impacts of any closures are being taken into consideration. According to the Western Cape Education Department, learner transport provisions are to be extended where it is necessary. Scenarios where children could possibly be moved from a current no-fee school to a school which require parents to pay school fees have been considered and are even included into budget considerations for school fee exemptions. Current personnel requirements and the impact on personnel are also considered under the scrutiny of existing labour laws and practices – even the culture of specific schools, such as the language of learning, are carefully considered in the process.

Geen departement van onderwys wat hul sout werd is kan die realiteit van skuiwings in leerdergetalle, verouderde infrastruktuur en onder andere volgehoue swak prestasie ignoreer nie. Dit is nie ‘n statiese, maar dinamiese, proaktiewe proses. In die Wes-Kaap word hierdie proses met deernis aangepak, volgens die wet uitgevoer in die beste belang van die kind as die sterkste oorweging.

Die positiewe impak wat die moontlike sluiting van skole kan hê, moet gemeet word in terme van gehalte onderwys. Multi-graad onderrig kan slegs volhoubaar resultate lewer in die teenwoordigheid van spesialis onderwysers. Noodgedwonge multi-graad onderrig word geïllimineer in groter skole wat terselfdetyd ook ‘n beter vakkeuse kan bied. Onderwysers kan ook beter toegerus en voorbereid wees vir lesings as waar multigraad onderrig plaasvind. Agbare Speaker, omdat die proses wat nogsteeds aan die gang is, noukeurig gevolg word volgens die voorskrifte van die wet asook in oorleg met die gees waarin die wet geskryf is, kan die Minister – wat die nodige prosedures en prosesse verstaan in teenstelling met Fransman en sy volgelinge – nie kommentaar en/of uitsprake vandag in hierdie huis lewer ten opsigte van spesifieke skole nie. Die insluiting van die Zonnebloem skool in die onderwerp is dus ‘n blatante, uitlokkende en onverskillige toevoeging tot die mosie deur agbare Member Tingwe.

The ANC has failed as a national government and as an effective opposition in this House. They are not interested in addressing the needs of the people, nor capable of doing so as we’ve seen in the Limpopo non-delivery of book saga; and the chaos in the education system in the Eastern Cape. Instead, we are experiencing a distortion of facts by the ANC – fickle attempts for self-preservation.

One such distortion is that the 27 schools part of the on-going process would mostly be to the disadvantage of black learners. The matter of the fact is that 95% of these schools were built during the old apartheid regime and are mainly Afrikaans medium schools. New and replacement schools built in the last two years have benefitted more than 93 000 learners. Another distortion is that school closures are only a Western Cape occurrence. The Sunday Times of 22 July 2012 reported on the situation in the rest of the country. “More than 2388 schools have closed down since 2000”. By province, “more than 1116 schools closed in the Free State, more than 648 in North West, more than 590 in the Eastern Cape, about 215 in Mpumalanga, and 173 in Limpopo. More than 111 were closed down in the Northern Cape”. According to the same article, “the Eastern Cape is investigating the possible closure of 352 schools while the Free State is looking at 114”. The reasons for closure given by the Sunday Times are that “many of the closures, had to do with urban migration – with pupils moving from township to suburban schools, and with poor pass rates and lack of resources” . Algemene ANC-aantuigings dat die DA-regering nie omgee vir die armes nie, word maklik weerlê met die onlangse inligting vanaf die Suid-Afrikaanse Instituut vir Rasseverhoudings (SAIRR) wat toon dat ‘no-fee’ skole in die Wes-Kaap met 64% gegroei het -die hoogste groeikoers in die land.

Agbare Speaker, hierdie debat kan nie gevoer word op aannames, verdraaiings van die waarheid of emosionele opswepery nie. Die wanindruk wat deur terme soos ‘forced removals’ geskep word is nog ‘n blatante, uitlokkende en onverskillige wanpersepsie wat Member Tingwe doelbewus probeer skep. Miskien is dit dat die agbare lid ‘n wanpersepsie van oorsig het en haar feite ontbreek omdat sy meestal skitter in haar afwesigheid in die staande komitee vir onderwys.

The importance of providing quality education to all children in the Western Cape is a continuous assessment of the needs of communities against the provisions of current facilities. Where schools have been built, where they are planned and to some degree where they might be closed addresses the need for all learners to access quality education. This is even more so in poorer, rural areas. We cannot condemn pupils to sub-par education provisions, not if we are fighting in the best interest of the learners.

Alle ouers is bereid om opofferings te maak vir hul kinders in terme van onderwys en dit is juis weens die opofferings wat gemaak word om beter onderwys vir hul kinders te verseker, ‘n beter toekoms vir hul kinders te verseker, dat emosies betrokke raak. Die ANC en spesifiek Marius Fransman is daarop uit om die mense met verkeerde inligting en vrees op te sweep, om die emosies van mense vir eie politieke wins te misbruik. Die ANC se mislukking as regering en as opposisie toon duidelik dat hulle nie omgee oor onderwys, of in die beste belang van die kind optree nie.

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