Minister Grant Comments on the Protests in Grabouw
I am extremely disappointed and appalled by the actions of some of the community members taking part in protest actions in Grabouw.
Yesterday, protesters set alight two classrooms at Umyezo Wama Apile School, damaging school infrastructure, learner workbooks and equipment and even some of the Grade 12 assignments required for their National Senior Certificate.
They also vandalised part of the school hall.
These protesters obviously do not have the learners' best interests at heart.
Their protest action has also disrupted teaching and learning for the second day in a row.
The protesters and the community can be assured that the department is doing all we can to improve the situation and are fully aware that the conditions at Umyezo Wama Apile are not ideal. The learner population in this area has expanded dramatically and unexpectedly, and we are looking for any suitable land available to make provision for the increase in numbers.
The best solution in the long-term is to build a new school and, in the short-term, accommodate learners temporarily in mobile classrooms.
But the issue blocking any progress in this regard is land.
We have made every effort to find suitable land in the area but this has proven to be difficult given the geographical landscape of the Grabouw region.
In January, we identified a piece of land on which to build a temporary site, which was investigated and confirmed environmentally sensitive.
We are currently working with the Theewaterskloof Municipality to secure a suitable piece of land which included the utilisation of part of the local sports field. This option still needs to be taken to council for a final decision.
Today, we have been made aware by the municipality of another site that could be a possible temporary solution. In all respects, the prospects of this site being a success is positive. District officials visited the site this afternoon, and tomorrow officials from head office will be conducting a site inspection.
Once a temporary site is secured, we have mobiles ready and waiting for delivery.
However, while the temporary site is being explored, our first prize would be to obtain a permanent site.
The site that is most suitable for a new school building in terms of size belongs to the National Department of Public Works. The Western Cape Government has sent numerous written communications to the minister's office in this regard. We have yet to receive any response to our requests and the matter is still being considered by the national minister.
As the WCED, we already have on our priority list a new school building in terms of our infrastructure plan for the Grabouw area. When we do acquire land, we will proceed with planning and the construction of a new school. We are ready and prepared for any eventuality.
By taking part in unlawful practice, community members are not helping the situation at all. They should be working with us and not against us to secure, peacefully, land on which to build a new, modern school so that we can make education better together in Grabouw.