Ricochet News

Closure of well-run farm schools is not in the interest of children of farm labourers

Aug 29, 2017
Closure of well-run farm schools is not in the interest of children of  farm labourers

Farm schools that are working efficiently and effectively should remain open, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape said on Tuesday, following reports that the Eastern Cape Department of Education will close 'non-viable' schools - most of them that are farm schools. 

"It makes no sense to close these schools when no scholar transport or boarding facilities are in place," said Edmund van Vuuren, the DA's Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Education. 

"I have written to Eastern Cape MEC of Education, Mandla Makupula, and the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Education, Fundile Gade, to request that farm schools that are working efficiently and effectively remain open.  We cannot follow a blanket-approach in this matter.   

"If the rationalisation of farm schools is to proceed, untold numbers of children of farm labourers will have their education opportunities destroyed and remain trapped in their present circumstances."

Van Vuuren said that the DA feels very strongly that many small- and farm schools are efficient and effective. 

"They should be retained, despite smaller learner numbers. 

"The MEC must bear in mind that the majority of these schools are in remote areas.  Merging them with bigger schools will create numerous problems.  The department has made no provision for additional scholar transport, which is in a shambolic state anyway.  Nor have any new hostels been built to accommodate learners whose schools are to be closed," he said. 

"The only result of this ill-conceived plan is that these children will be left stranded with little choice but to drop out of school.  

"This is just another example of how an uncaring government is abandoning the most vulnerable in our society.  A caring DA-run provincial government will never allow a situation to develop where children are robbed of the opportunity of a good education which will ensure that they have the skills to make a better life for themselves."

Van Vuuren said that the Democratic Alliance in the Eastern Cape is appealing to MEC Makupula to do serious introspection about his department’s plan to either close or “rationalise” a total of 1 902 small schools. 

"The National Education Policy Act Guidelines stipulate a minimum school size of 135 learners at primary level and 200 learners a secondary school level," he added.