KZN plans shake-up of schools

2012-07-31 00:00

THE Education Department is proposing to close all combined schools in the province and non-viable schools in what it call the “schools rationalisation project”.

“The MEC wants a situation where we have two categories of schools, which is a primary school [grades R to 7] and a secondary school [grades 8 to 12],” said provincial education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi.

“For example, at present there are too many categories of schools: those that start from grades R to 3, grades R to 12 and grades 4 to 6.”

The department planned to “rationalise” small, “non-viable” satellite schools and merge them with larger ones. This was one way for the department to plan better in terms of resource allocation and improve its organisational structure.

Mahlambi said the department had already launched a pilot phase in some districts.

The KwaZulu-Natal CEO of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA, Anthony Pierce, said the union was not against the idea of reclassifying schools, but he warned the department to tread cautiously.

“There’s a process to take into account … The complexities don’t allow this classification to take place overnight,” he added.

Availability of space, teachers’ conditions of service and the role of school governing bodies were some of the issues that need to be taken into account, said Pierce.

He warned that combining junior and senior pupils from primary schools could lead to bullying and sexual abuse of youngsters not used to Grade 7 pupils.

There was also the cost of transporting pupils from schools close to their homes to schools that the department considered more viable.

Pupils and teachers would have to travel far distances to schools out of their areas.

Pierce said a significant number of schools in the province would be affected.

“This is nothing we can wish overnight,” he said.

The chairperson of the National Association of School Governing Bodies, Reginald Chiliza, said the association would not support the proposed programme as it had not been consulted.

“The reclassification of schools is going to affect both the pupils and parents,” said Chiliza, and they needed the department to explain the pros and cons.

He said there needed to be a public hearing on the matter.

“It’s sad. It feels like we’re looked down upon by the department,” Chiliza said.

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