WCED ‘failing’ children

The first half of 2017 has come and gone, but the unregistered school in Joe Slovo remains.

Earlier this year, parents of pupils at the school vowed to keep it open, saying they had been unable to register their children elsewhere (“Pupils left in limbo,” Tabletalk, February 1).

Shortly after news of the school spread, it received donations of socks (“Staff emotional after donation to school,” Tabletalk, February 22).

Last month, Joe Slovo’s frustration with Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spilled onto the streets where protesters demanded authorities recognise the school (“We just want them to register the school,” Tabletalk, May 10).

Now the mother of one of the pupils has written to Tabletalk accusing the WCED of failing the community’s children.

Nolizwi Masango, a domestic worker, asked how Joe Slovo’s children could exercise their constitutional right to education if they “are not being given that opportunity to learn and pursue their dreams”.

She praised the teachers at Khozi Primary for their “hard work”, saying she could see from her son’s books and homework that they were doing a good job.

“As a parent, a community member and as a first-year varsity drop-out, I think the WCED is not following South African law. I am very angry that my son will not get the education he deserves. He will end up like his mother who works as a domestic worker who cannot afford ‘white schools’.

“If I take my son to another school, how am I going to pay for his transport? I am not going to do that. The moment this school closes, people will start building shacks here and rent them out to foreigners, and our children will be busy with gangsterism.

“The department of education must do the right thing. Give our children education. We are not closing this school, finish and klaar,” she said.

Responding to Ms Masango’s letter, WCED spokeswoman Jessica Shelver said the department had leased the site temporarily from the City of Cape Town to accommodate Sinenjongo High School pupils while completing a replacement school for them across the road.

“The lease with the City has come to an end, and the WCED needs the mobile classrooms to relieve pressure elsewhere. The WCED is no longer leasing the land from the City. Children on the site are not receiving formal schooling, and their education there will not be recognised. Our district office will help to place children at nearby schools, as required,” said Ms Shelver.

The department had allocated more teachers and set up three mobile classrooms at Marconi Beam Primary and another two at Tygerhof Primary to do that.

“Our district offices are working with parents and schools to place learners appropriately,” Ms Shelver said.

Organisationscouldapplyto register private schools if they met the criteria, which include having suitable premises, a recognised curriculum and qualified teachers.

Meanwhile a Khozi Primary teacher, who did not want to be identified, said the community was divided over the school.

“Some want the school to remain. Others want to use the land for their own businesses and houses,” she said.

There were 420 pupils – fewer than half of those who had started the year at the school. The teacher said parents had started pulling their children out of the school after they had not been issued with first-term reports, even though they had written exams.

“Parents are getting worried that their children’s education here will not be recognised and they decided to remove them from the school. The rest of the parents really want the school, and they say they are going to stand firm to get it,” she said.

The school’s 12 teachers, she said, were paying out of their own pockets to make photocopies of teaching materials that complied with the national curriculum, and the only money the school received came from the parents of Grade R pupils who paid R100 a month for food and toilet paper.

Some of that money helped to buy ink for the donated photocopier, and pupils had to bring their own books and paper.