The FF Plus intervened in the sudden closure of the Tsitsikama Primary School in the Eastern Cape to make way for a new high school on the premises, which is causing great uncertainty about where the current primary school learners are meant to go.
The party has already engaged with both the province’s MEC for Education, Mr Fundile Gade, and the Portfolio Committee in the Provincial Legislature to find a solution.
The number of affected children and how the Department will accommodate them remain unclear.
What is currently unfolding in Tsitsikama is characteristic of the crisis management that usually follows the ANC government’s failure to invest in infrastructure for education.
According to information obtained by the FF Plus, children were still being enrolled at the school last year. However, when the school re-opened this year, the principal, Mr J.V. Grootboom, informed parents and learners that the school will soon close its doors. In a subsequent letter, parents were asked to keep their children at home for their own safety.
According to a media report today (HeraldLIVE; Confusion reigns as primary school becomes a high school), parents turned up at the school this morning demanding that their children be taken in.
In another letter, the Mayor of the Koukamma Municipality in Kareedouw, Mr F.J. Yake, indicated that there has been dissatisfaction about inadequate high school facilities since 1987.
According to him, conversations were had with the Department of Education in November and December 2023, while consultations with the community apparently took place on 12, 14, 15 and 16 January 2024.
It was reportedly decided during these meetings that the Primary School’s learners and teachers will be accommodated by other schools in the area.
The FF Plus considers this conduct and short notice disgraceful. It is more important for primary school learners to attend school closer to home than it is for older learners who are already in high school.
The foundation for further education is laid during learners’ primary school years. So, it would be wrong to think that the interests of primary schools are less important.
Moreover, the claim that talks will keep disruption to a minimum is meaningless. The Tsitsikama Primary School community should have been properly consulted in the first place.
And if closing the school is the only viable solution to a crisis, a notice to that effect should have been issued no later than the end of the third term.
In addition, these events are only fuelling the FF Plus’s opposition to the so-called BELA Bill.
A community would never disrupt its own education in this way, but the Eastern Cape Department of Education seems to think it is acceptable. And now the Bill aims to give such incompetent departments even more power.
These events provide yet another valid reason for ousting the ANC in the upcoming elections thus enabling the FF Plus to, as part of a new government, restore and rebuild education.