The aim of the closures is to improve opportunities for learners by placing them in schools that are better equipped to provide quality education.
Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to apply my mind to all the representations made to me by the governing bodies of the 27 schools that are being considered for possible closure at the end of this year.
The school governing body is the legal representative of each public school in South Africa and it is therefore appropriate that their views on the future of the school which they represent are heard first and are taken with the utmost seriousness.
I have read all of the submissions presented to me, carefully reviewed their contents, weighed up all arguments presented and have made a decision in each case on whether to proceed to the next step in the prescribed school closure process, namely the public hearing phase.
After considering all representations received from the governing bodies concerned, I have decided to proceed with the public hearings in respect of each of the 27 schools and have taken steps to inform each of the schools of my decision.
This decision merely officially marks the beginning of the broader participation process. It does not indicate any final decision on my behalf.
The Western Cape Education Department will now move – in accordance with the applicable legislation – to arrange a public hearing upon reasonable notice in respect of each of the 27 schools to give every parent, learner, educator and community member concerned the opportunity to share their views on the proposed school closures if they so wish.
When conducting each of the public hearings, the Department will make every effort to ensure that:
- members of the public who attend a public hearing are provided with an opportunity to make representations (whether verbally and/or in writing) at the hearing;
- every representation made by a member of the public at a public hearing is duly noted by the WCED officials presiding over the hearing; and
- every representation made by a member of the public attending a public hearing forms part of the record for me to consider when I am required to decide finally whether or not to close the school concerned.
I am today calling on all interested parties to take part in this process freely.
In fact, I would like to take the public participation process beyond the prescribed public hearing and call on every parent, learner, educator, and community member who has an opinion on the proposed school closures to share these with me before the end of August 2012.
In addition to making representations at the public hearings, members of the public may submit their representations to my office for me to consider. These may be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, by post to Private Bag X9161, Cape Town, 8000, by fax to 021 425 5689, and/or by hand to the Ministry at 23rd Floor, Golden Acre Building, Cnr Strand and Adderley Street, Cape Town. We will be issuing public notices to this effect to ensure that as many people in this province have the opportunity to make an input for my consideration.
I have taken and will continue to take the issue of school closures very seriously and would welcome as many views as possible before making my final decision.
A concern raised is a concern that will be carefully considered by me.
I want to ensure that I make the best possible decision in each case and this requires me to look at all factors and realities in relation to each of the 27 schools.
The decision to close any school is not an easy one. I understand, respect and am mindful of the significance that some of the 27 schools may have in their respective communities.
I will therefore consider each and every representation made to me in relation to the proposed school closures and ensure that ultimately my decision is made with restraint, is lawful, constitutes sound administration and takes account of the interests of all concerned, particularly the children.