Education dept to fix ‘crisis’ in Newcastle

2016-02-12 10:30

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Pietermaritzburg - The Department of Education has committed to looking into the “education crisis” in Newcastle.

This emerged after parents from rural and farm schools raised concerns over the merging of schools in their areas with schools in town.

The parents said their children were now forced to walk long distances to school as the scholar transport system for primary school pupils was not properly co-ordinated, and high school pupils had no transport system at all.

The leader of the concerned parents, Lucky Shabalala, said the department had committed to a short-term solution.

“For now we agreed that pupils from high schools would share buses with those in primary school until the department provides them with their own buses.

“It was unacceptable that when we are trying to improve matric results, we have pupils who have to walk 20 kilometres to school, arriving late and tired,” he said.

Shabalala said the merger of schools in the area had led to a crisis.

“The schools from rural areas have been swallowed by white schools in the urban areas, and the department is introducing the bus system to pick up primary school children from rural areas.

“Most of the rural areas’ schools have been instructed to close down. Here we are talking about farm workers’ children who will not be able to compete in class with children from suburbs who always have money in their pockets because their parents’ financial circumstances are much better,” he said.

Shabalala added that some parents were now forced to pay school fees after they were moved from no-fee schools to schools that pay fees.

Education Department spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said the schools had been merged as part of the transformation of small and non-viable schools.

“This does not only affect schools in Newcastle, but other non-viable schools in the province.

“We want to make sure that every school has the acceptable number of pupils and resources,” he said.

Mlotshwa said he believed that “no no-fee schools had been merged with those that pay school fees”.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  education

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