Minister Grant Condemns the Disruption of Learning at Umyezo Wama Apile School
Media Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Education
Today's disruption of teaching and learning and intimidation of learners and educators at Umyezo Wama Apile School is completely unacceptable and deplorable.
This morning, learners of Umyezo Wama Apile School returned to their school to resume teaching and learning.
All three phases, Foundation, Intermediate and Senior, took part in their respective assemblies as per usual. Classes were to resume thereafter. However, members from the Elgin Grabouw Civic Organisation "Task Team" disrupted the morning's procedures and informed learners that teaching and learning would not resume allegedly because "Minister Grant had not responded to their memorandum" and that they should return home. Their threatening approach led some of the learners to leave. While some learners left the school premises, other learners tried to stop them and pleaded with them to return to the classroom.
It is disgraceful that members from this organisation reportedly proceeded to threaten the educators. They informed all educators that should they resume any educator duties, such as marking or teaching and learning, "there would be trouble".
This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated and it has confirmed my suspicions over the last week that this group is not acting in the best interests of these learners.
The truth is that the education ministry has communicated with the Elgin Grabouw Civic Organisation and has responded to their memorandum.
On 8 March, my ministry wrote to John Micheals, the Chairman of the Elgin Grabouw Civic Organisation, informing him that a piece of municipal land in the Grabouw area had been identified as a temporary site for the installation of mobile classrooms and that the relevant administrative processes were currently being followed to secure this site for this purpose.
We informed him that should we be able to secure the site, there was every possibility that we could have a new mobile school erected and ready for use as soon as the start of the second school term.
We also explained to Mr Micheals that the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is committed to the building of acceptable permanent school facilities but this would require securing permanent land on which to locate these facilities.
This has been difficult to achieve in the area and has been a priority for the Western Cape Government since 2009.
A suitable site for this new school has been identified. However, this site is currently held by the National Department of Public Works. While the Western Cape Government has taken numerous steps to facilitate the transfer of this land from the National Department of Public Works to the Western Cape Government, the National Minister of Public Works is still considering this matter.
In the meantime, as explained to Mr Micheals, the WCED is exploring other options to ensure that a permanent site for the new school can be secured as soon as possible without necessarily waiting any longer for the release of the site by the national government.
We have also communicated to the principal of the school and the school governing body that parents should be encouraged to ensure that their children attend school every school day while the necessary facilities, both temporary and permanent, are completed.
While we are pleased with the positive finding of a "temporary solution" to this problematic situation, members of the Elgin Grabouw Civic Organisation "Task Team" are seemingly still determined to disrupt teaching and learning at the expense of these learners' education.
Their dishonest and deplorable actions have therefore led me to consider various means at my disposal to ensure that teaching and learning can take place uninterrupted. This includes the possibility of obtaining an interdict against certain members of this organisation in order to prevent further disruption at this school.
The educators at this school want to resume teaching and it is evident that the learners want to learn. This is their right and it is now being violated.