Cosatu, Western Cape govt meet on schools

2012-08-22 22:13
Cosatu's Tony Ehrenreich (Die Burger)

Cosatu's Tony Ehrenreich (Die Burger)

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Johannesburg - The Western Cape government and Cosatu held a "constructive negotiation" on education in the province on Wednesday, the trade union federation said.

"This meeting was forced on the provincial government by the National Economic Development and Labour Council [Nedlac] in terms of the Nedlac Act and the Labour Relations Act...," provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said in a statement.

He said Western Cape Premier Helen Zille earlier refused to meet the Congress of SA Trade Unions.

The meeting resolved that the provincial government would clarify that plans to close certain schools were not a foregone conclusion.

It would also continue with a consultation process.

Cosatu in the Western Cape had threatened to go on strike if the schools were closed.

The groups also reached consensus that quality, equal education needed to be made available to all pupils.

"This was the first time the Western Cape government has ever agreed to the need for equality of education between black and white kids, and it is a significant move to undoing the old apartheid practices in this province," Ehrenreich said.

Committees composed of members of Cosatu and the provincial department of education would report back to Nedlac in three weeks on the matters discussed.

"Should no progress be made, then Cosatu maintains its right to continue its strike action under Nedlac."

Western Cape education department head Penny Vinjevold described the discussions as "fruitful and robust".

The department's proposals were based on the principles of quality and equal education.

"The aim of the proposed school closures is to improve opportunities for the learners concerned," Vinjevold said.

The department would place the affected pupils in schools better equipped to provide quality education.

"Most of the schools concerned are very small rural schools that have dwindling numbers and do not have the resources to deliver the full curriculum."

They were in poor condition, or had a poor record of academic performance.

"The department is engaging in a comprehensive public consultation process to provide opportunities for interested parties and members of the public to comment on the proposals," Vinjevold said.

- SAPA

Read more on:    cosatu  |  nedlac  |  tony ehrenreich  |  helen zille  |  cape town  |  education  |  local government  |  politics
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