A victory for Uitzig HS learners - WC High Court rules in favour of MEC
Last week, the Western Cape High Court ruled that the application brought by the SGB of the school challenging my decision to close Uitzig High School, be dismissed with costs.
"This is a victory for the learners of Uitzig High School as they will now move to neighbouring schools where there are better facilities and resources", said Schafer.
"On the 3rd of March 2017, I approved that consideration be given to the closure of Uitzig HS in Elsies River. I took this decision after much consideration as to what is in the best interests of the learners and mindful of the fact that high court litigation had already been initiated in this matter", said Schafer.
This decision was however taken to court, egged on by Mr Tony Ehrenreich, and we were prevented from implementing it for almost two years. This came at a great cost not only to the department but to the remaining learners who attend Uitzig High School.
The protracted court battle meant that almost 100 learners were forced to stay on premises where a school building had been declared unsafe. We had to accordingly install mobile classrooms and ablution facilities, plus pay for security on the site, which came at great cost.
In addition, learner performance at the school was negatively affected, with the school only achieving a 20% pass rate in the 2017 NSC compared to 70.6% in 2016. Learners, teachers and parents who wished to move to other schools were reportedly intimidated and eventually stayed out of fear. The real victims of this have always been the learners.
The school currently has 87 learners, of which 13 are in Grade 12. All the current learners will be accommodated at alternative schools in time for the start of the 2019 academic year, where arrangements have been made for them to apply for fee exemptions, and where a number of other learners from Uitzig Secondary have integrated well and safely. Any allegations to the contrary are simply not true.
We will now be able to use the resources that we have been spending there at other schools where it is desperately needed.
"It is my hope that these learners will not be subjected to any further petty politicking by people or entities who appear to have alternative agendas in mind to what is clearly in the best interests of learners," said Schafer.
"I would very much like to see a peaceful transition now so that learners can look forward to starting 2019 in a new school environment where they can receive a quality education, and our educators can work in a safer environment".