What Does This Mean For Students?
After meetings with parents, school governing bodies, unions and civil society leaders the government has decided to close certain schools.
This was announced on the 5th of July 2021. This gave communities a 30 day period to submit comments on their schools.
Communities had to follow processes when they submitted their comments to districts and provincial offices.
These comments from communities resulted in the announcement of the closure of schools. Other schools only had to adhere to certain rules to meet the requirements to keep their schools open.
Quality Education Programme
The South African Schools Act (ACT 84 of 1996) advises communities on the following:
These three options indicate how schools will be dealt with.
The above-mentioned programme was initially started because of the limited resources in schools.
The limited number of students in these schools and to ensure that each student benefits from their learning environment. Overall, the government wants to improve the quality of education.
- Closure means that the schools have been closed.
- Merging means that schools have been combined with other schools
- Realignment process means that some changes will be made to the schools to meet the requirements
What Were The Results?
The (Norms and Standards) Act has certain expectations that resulted in the following outcomes:
- Primary schools
- Secondary schools
The results for primary schools were as follows:
- Primary schools had less than 135 learners which is less than the national average of 150 learners per school.
The results for the secondary schools were as follows:
- The norms and standards prescribed 200 learners but the secondary school national average is 504 learners per school.
None of the schools whether it be primary, or secondary met the requirements which led to the closing of schools.
Apart from the 1142 schools mentioned, 390 other schools will be realigned because they have less students.
This is done to improve the quality of education provided in South Africa.
Service Delivery Model
To provide quality education, the government has implemented the Service Delivery Model (SDM) and new Organisational Structure.
The Service Delivery Model rationalises non-viable schools. This means that the Service Delivery Mode wants to make sense of schools with a lower number of students. The government has concluded that the schools are too small to appoint more teachers.
This becomes a problem because one teacher is now forced to teach many subjects, some subjects of which they have no knowledge on. This makes it difficult for students to get the quality they deserve.
Post Closure Process
All the pre-closure requirements have been met. Therefore it is important to take note of the next step which is the post-closure process.
The Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), districts and circuits are expected to do the following after the closure of schools:
- Inform the EMIS (Education Management Information System) of the schools that have closed.
- The School Administration should ensure that Norms and Standards funds follow learners to receiving schools.
- School Nutrition Programme should transfer the funds of the learners from their Closing schools to their Receiving schools
- Supply Chain Management has to conduct an audit of Assets in the Closed schools.
- There must be an assessment of these Closed schools and prepare Transfer of these immovable assets to D.P.W.
- Must provide transport for deserving learners from these Closed schools to avoid them dropping out of school or burdening parents with transport costs except if they are taken to school of their own choice.
- The contract of these schools’ leases should be terminated if they are on private property.
- All the school accounts should be settled by any creditors and the remaining money should be returned to Provincial Fiscus.
Chief Directorates Responsibility
- All of the above processes are done by various Chief Directorates immediately.
- Although the process started in 2016, all Districts and Circuit Managers were directed to implement, guide and manage the process in line with the Circuit School Landscape Plans for all 216 Circuits which informs the process.
- The SOP’s has approved the school rationalisation and realignment guide officials at District and Provincial levels.
What Works For The Students And Parents
- Other schools closed due to learner migration following the movement of parents in search of better economic prospects. This therefore also informs the movement of children to other nearby schools or outside the District or Province.
- Migration trends influenced by socio-economic opportunities led to some of these schools closing.
- Public Hearings were held where SGBs and various stakeholders views were submitted by Districts with findings and recommendations for MEC’s approval.