Minister Grant Announces Decision on the Future of Langunya Finishing School
After careful consideration and deliberation, I have come to my final decision on the future of Lagunya Finishing School. This decision, I believe, will be in the best interests of the students at Lagunya.
I have made this decision in terms of a statutory process determined by the South African Schools Act and the Western Cape Provincial School Education Act. These provisions allow the member of the Executive Council to close a public school.
However, a prescribed process must be followed. This includes informing the governing body of the school of my intention, giving the governing body of the school a reasonable opportunity to make representations in relation to such action, conducting a public hearing and giving due consideration to any such representations received.
This process has now been completed. I have weighed all the available evidence and the arguments for and against the school's continued operation. This includes proposals made by the school's governors, as well as representations made during the public participation process.
Let me make this clear. This has not been an easy decision as I have been made aware of and fully appreciate the historical importance the school plays in the Langa community.
It is in fact precisely because of its historical role that it has managed to stay open all these years, despite there being no provision in the current education dispensation for a finishing school.
Given the fact that we are funding and allocating posts to an institution that does not exist in law, it presents enormous difficulties in terms of administration as well as in holding educators and learners to account.
Therefore, in the best interests of the learners at the school, I have decided that Lagunya Finishing School will be closed with effect from 31 December 2009. However, in order to allow for the completion of the May/June 2010 Senior Certificate Examinations, the school will be given a winding down period until 9 June 2010.
I have stated from the outset that my final decision will in no way prejudice the interests of the students that are currently enrolled at the school, as this administration is not in the business of denying opportunity to anyone to improve their education or life circumstance.
In fact, we are determined to do just the opposite.
Our plan is as follows:
- Every learner registered at the school to write the May/June 2010 Senior Certificate Examination by 31 January will receive tuition and textbooks.
- After 31 January 2010, learners who wish to write the final Senior Certificate Examinations in May / June 2011 will be accommodated at other centres in the area.
- This process will be closely monitored and tuition will be offered to those registered for the May 2010 Senior Certificate examination (old curriculum).
- The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) will employ a sufficient number of teachers on a part-time basis to provide tuition to the registered learners. The best possible tuition will be provided for these learners.
- The six permanently employed teachers at the school will be deployed on the same basis to other schools from 1 January 2010. They will be allocated to schools that have high learner: teacher ratios and will become an integral part in helping to turn around underperforming schools in the area.
- The contracts of the 16 remaining teachers expire at the end of this month. These teachers will be given preference when it comes to the allocation of posts at other schools or adult education centres including Lagunya.
- The WCED will meet all the financial obligations of the school that are necessary until the end of operations on the 9th of June 2010.
One must take into account that when the decision at national level was made to allow students the opportunity to rewrite their examinations under the old curriculum, there was no undertaking given to provide those students with tuition.
As a result of my decision the students currently enrolled at Lagunya will in many ways be given the best possible opportunity to excel in next year's examinations. They will be provided with the best possible tuition, extra support and textbooks.
Some of the voices raised in objection have highlighted legitimate concerns, for which we are grateful. This administration encourages open debate on issues such as this. However, it is regrettable that this issue has also become highly politicised and exploited by a range of vested interests. This has created a number of misconceptions about the quality of outcomes at Lagunya and the reasons for its closure.
I am confident that today's decision represents the very best possible outcome in that it ensures that our education system in the Western Cape falls in line with national education policy and legislation, removes all of the administrative complications surrounding the continued existence of a finishing school and, most critically, allows for those students enrolled for the 2010 examinations the best quality instruction until they have written in June.
It is my sincere wish that all those affected will respect this decision.
Media Liaison Officer
Ministry for Education
Cell: 072 724 1422
Tel: 021 467 2377