Parents of pupils at 'deplorable' Uitzig high urged to seek alternative schools

2017-02-03 22:04
Conditions at Uitzig Secondary School (Jenni Evans, News24)

Conditions at Uitzig Secondary School (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town – Parents of pupils at Uitzig Secondary School, which the Western Cape education department wants to close down, have been urged to seek alternative schools to accommodate their children.

The department said it had sent letters to the parents on Thursday.

On Friday the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) visited the school and said it was in a "deplorable" condition. 

Education department spokesperson Paddy Attwell said the department had decided to send the letters after careful consideration and numerous meetings with the school.

"[The school] only [has] 129 learners and only qualifies for a maximum of four teachers. This is not enough to teach seven to nine subjects in grades 8 to 12," said Attwell.

SAHRC education commissioner Andre Gaum told News24 the situation was generally deplorable and that the commission's primary concern was to ensure that pupils receive adequate teaching.

Electricity, water cut off

"[We] found inadequate facilities. The building is severely vandalised and only three teachers are available."

The SAHRC also paid the school a surprise visit in January and found that the school's fences had been torn down and that the electricity and water supply had been cut off, among other things.

The school has been at the centre of controversy after the department decided to close it down because it was "unsafe".

The department said it had no choice because vandals were carrying it away "brick by brick".

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has since come out in defence of the school, saying the department has not done enough to save it.

Gaum said the SAHRC would send another letter to the department on Monday as part of its mediation effort between the community and the department.

Violation of rights

In January a group of about 150 pupils, parents and their supporters protested at the Western Cape provincial legislature against the school's closure, claiming the department allowed the school to become a target of vandalism by failing to maintain it.

At the time education MEC Debbie Schafer said allowing teachers and pupils to continue teaching and learning at Uitzig Secondary School would be a violation of their human rights.

In an open letter on Friday Cosatu's provincial leader Tony Ehrenreich criticised the provincial government.

"We ask the Human Rights Commission [to] interdict the WCED from violating the learners' rights, and for the schooling to continue at Uitzig High School as the WCED had indicated to learners last year," Ehrenreich said. 

He said he previously paid for the repair work on the school's water pipes. 

Read more on:    sahrc  |  cape town  |  education

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