Warning for township schools

2010-01-13 17:08

Durban - Rural and township schools will soon become white elephants if parents continue sending their children to former model C schools, a teachers' union warned on Wednesday.

"If the exodus is allowed to happen, the township schools will remain empty buildings. They will be turned into buildings to house criminals,” said Mbuyiseni Mathonsi, SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) secretary in KwaZulu-Natal.

Mathonsi said the exodus of pupils from schools managed by blacks into private schools and former model C schools had become a norm.

'No alternative'

The exodus signified that parents had no confidence in the township and rural schools.

Parents who still sent their children to township or rural schools did so because they had no alternative "at the moment", he said.

They would send them to private schools as soon as they had money, he said.

Township schools would end up unused and homeless people would start living in them.

"All township or rural teachers will be retrenched and will be forced to join the unemployed," he said.

He said the department of education in the province was implementing the policy of downgrading and upgrading schools.

Those schools that had lost a sizeable number of pupils would be downgraded and those that had gained more learners would be upgraded, Mathonsi said.

"It goes without saying that former model C schools, in the main, will be the beneficiaries of the above process," he said.

Schools to be combined

Schools with few remaining children would be combined into one school and parents would be forced to transport their children to far away schools.

"Child-minded homes will be the worst hit by the situation," he said.

Mathonsi said his union would soon start conducting surveys to determine the number of pupils who left rural and township schools.

"Each Sadtu branch must report on a monthly basis on the status of the school learner population (the decrease and increase thereof). This is done to trace the number and reason for a drop-out rate," he said.

Different opinion

Anthony Pierce of the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA said he agreed with Mathonsi "up to a point".

"Wealthy people who live in the townships can leave townships and send their children to private and former model C schools," he said.

Most people who lived in townships did not have the financial means to transport their kids to schools and also to pay for their school fees.

National Teachers Union's deputy president, Allan Thompson, said he disagreed with Mathonsi.

"Actually, we have seen an influx of pupils flocking to good township and rural schools such as Umlazi's Ogwini High School, Menzi High School and Star of the Sea in Kosi Bay, etc," he said.

He said his union would embark on a campaign to encourage parents to get involved in the running of schools and also to monitor their children's schoolwork.