“We demand [Donald] Grant’s removal as education MEC, as he is playing loose and fast with the education needs of children,” Western Cape Congress of South African Trade Unions’ secretary Tony Ehrenreich said.
“We oppose the closure of several schools as it will undermine the education of working class black communities.”
Ehrenreich said he and other organisations wanted to meet with the education department directly to negotiate “a grand plan” for education.
“This must ensure that there is quality of education, and resources between black and white learners have equal prospects.”
On Wednesday, Grant told reporters in Cape Town that people would have time to voice their concerns before a decision was made on whether to close the under-performing schools.
The relevant school governing bodies had been notified of possible closure and had until Friday to make written and oral representations. He would then decide whether to proceed with the closure and, if so, arrange a public hearing to allow affected people to state their case.
When asked if he would meet with Cosatu and the ANC, he said he would only meet with the relevant parties within the participation process.
Responding to allegations of racism, he said it was unfortunate that the ANC and Cosatu had again “cheapened” the decisions that needed to be taken.
“I do not see children in racial groups. I just see children.”
ANC provincial leader Marius Fransman, in a telephone interview, said Grant’s actions “reeked” not only of racism, but also of recklessness and irresponsibility.
“The problem is, if you want to close schools [on the Cape Flats] you are essentially displacing children to other areas outside, like Bishop Lavis and Elsies River.
“There are gang turf wars in these communities. If you send them there, you are asking for the killing of our children en route to school … blood of young people will be on the hands of the government.
Fransman asked for sanity and the immediate withdrawal of notice letters to school principals. He said at least a year was needed to consult the communities.
“In those cases where it makes sense [to close schools], we are not against the principle … [but in the case of these 27 schools] they have already decided. They are just trying to legitimise the process.” – Sapa