By Dr Tutu Faleni (MPL), DA North West Education Spokesperson:
The Democratic Alliance in North West learned with concern that at least 104 schools have been closed in the North West, by the Department Education, without any plans for future usage, or public consultation.
Most of these buildings are now empty and not being utilised for any purpose. They have been turned into hiding places for criminals and the police have reported that they have confiscated stolen building materials from residents in the areas of the empty school buildings.
Schools rationalisation should only be undertaken when there is a sound educational benefit, such as preventing multi-grade teaching and learning in a single classroom. In each case, communities need to be consulted, and plans put in place to accommodate learners in a better educational environment in the vicinity. This is achieved either through the building of a new school, or the merging of over- and under-utilized schools.
It is clear from the derelict state of these North West school buildings that no such planning was undertaken. In acceptable instances of schools rationalization, quality education is always the objective. Instead, the closure of these 104 schools seems to be simply a case of gross negligence rather than the pursuit of quality education.
In an already cash-strapped province with a poverty stricken population the DA strongly condemns this waste.
The provision of education infrastructure for communities is guided by strategic socio-economic planning; which entails that government conduct studies of population growth; migration and other demographic information which assist in properly planning community projects.
Vast amounts of money that went into the construction and maintenance of these 104 schools now lies wasted as the buildings are stripped bare.
The DA will request Premier Supra Mahumapelo in the North West Provincial Legislature to launch an investigation into the construction of these schools closures. Disciplinary action should be taken against those who were involved in the authorization of these schools being closed without proper process being followed.
The DA will also request a detailed plan on how they plan to use these empty buildings to the advantage of poor communities.