THE Eastern Cape government has announced the closure of more than 1 000 dysfunctional schools across the province.
About 1 142 schools across the Eastern Cape province were gazetted for closure as part of the rationalisation, realignment and merge of non-viable schools, following a series of meaningful meeting with parents, unions, school governing bodies and civil society leaders.
The program was meant to ensure the augmentation of the limited state resources, for the benefit of every learner in the province.
MEC for education Fundile Gade said the merging of schools will improve the overall quality of education in the province.
He said the Eastern Cape Department of Education has gazetted the realignment and merger of at least 390 schools in the province.
“Unviable, dysfunctional schools in any system are a nerve because they are part of the dysfunctionality of the entire system but the intention is not to close them,” said Gade.
“The intention is to get a sense of what then becomes a broader view of the communities that are being served and how do you save government unnecessary expenditure out of those institutions that are dysfunctional from that one thousand already about 400 of them are likely to be re-purposed.”
The gazetted schools had less than the prescribed number of learners for either a primary or high school hence the move to merge them for better learner performance and outcomes.
The Norms and Standards prescribes that a minimum number of enrolled primary school learners should be 135, while a secondary school should have at least 200 enrolled learners.
These schools, according to Gade, do not meet any of those regulations and merging or realigning them will guarantee that each learners receives public quality education.
The realignment and merger of schools is prescribed by the South African Schools Act (Act 84 of 1996). Primarily, the program is meant to ensure that learners receive quality public education at all times as prescribed by the Constitution of the land, said the department.
The need to rationalise schools in the Eastern Cape started a few years ago.
The province not only inherited a large number of very small schools from the Transkei era, but out-migration to urban centres both within and outside of the province has also made many schools unviable.
Data from 2016, when the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC) project began, showed that close to 50% of schools had fewer than 250 learners, and another 17% have fewer than 100 learners.
Previous rationalisation efforts in the province were characterised by non-compliance with the provisions of South African Schools Act on the closure of schools, along with fragmented planning that affected teacher placements (from old to new schools) and the provision of scholar transport, resources and infrastructure in receiving schools.
This lack of transport for learners moving to more distant schools created distrust among communities, which fuelled resistance to the rationalisation efforts.
* Inside Education