WCED’s plan for new school under scrutiny

WCED spokeswoman Bronagh Hammond says the department plans to set up 10 mobile classrooms, with ablution facilities, at a cost of R17 million, on this site in Oliphant Street.

The Western Cape Education Department has communicated poorly about its plans for a new prefabricated school, to be set up in Bothasig at a cost of R17 million, say residents.

A parent, who did not want to be named, as he fears his daughter will be victimised and removed from the school, says he received a Grade 8 application form from the WCED in November last year.

The application refers to the placement of prefabricated classrooms in Oliphant Street, Bothasig, to accommodate unplaced pupils.

But, the contact numbers and emails on the application form had not worked and the department had not responded to emailed queries about the school, he said.

He had been unsure how to apply and what the school fees would be.

“I was left in the dark, and my daughter had not yet had a placement for Grade 8 at the time. I was worried,” he said.

She now has been placed in the new school, called Bothasig High School, and started classes on Tuesday January 25.

However, had it not been for the Bothasig Ratepayers’ Association, which had made further enquiries about the school, his daughter would have still been unplaced, he said.

“As a parent, I was happy to receive this application form, but the education department caused me so much depression and stress when they did not respond to emails and calls.”

Bothasig Ratepayers’ Association chairman Derek Serra said he had contacted the WCED to better understand its plans for the new school and whether local children would be prioritised, but he had had no response.

“The school remained a mystery until we (BRA) started investigating about the school.”

He then visited Bosmansdam High School and learned that the two schools would share premises while the new prefabricated school was built.

WCED spokeswoman Bronagh Hammond said the department had planned to set up 10 “mobile” classrooms, with ablution facilities, at the Oliphant Street site by the end of the first school term.

However, the project had been delayed by a “statutory process” and would now only be completed in August 2022, she said.

In the meantime, classrooms and facilities had been made available at Bosmansdam High School.

Bothasig High School has its own entrance and exit gates and will run independently, even while being on Bosmansdam High School property.

The pupils also have their own uniform: a white shirt, grey pants or skirt and maroon top.

“The new school started running from Wednesday, January 19 and no learning is being delayed,” Ms Hammond said.

The Oliphant Street site was owned by the provincial government and zoned for educational purposes, and R17 million had been budgeted to set up the school, said Ms Hammond.

The new school could accommodate 200 pupils and was full, she said, adding that priority had been given to unplaced pupils from the area.

The pupils were on the department’s Central Education Management Information (CEMIS) list and there were teachers for Grade 8 and 9 classes as well as an interim governing body, which would decide on what the school fees would be, she said.

Geraldine Josephs questioned the CEMIS list and said that after 18 years of living in Bothasig, her son, who was supposed to be in Grade 8, was still unplaced because she had never received an application form.