This morning I visited Zwelitsha in Khayelitsha to see for myself the conditions of an illegal school operating in the area. There were around 60 children being ‘taught’ in conditions that are not conducive to teaching and learning. There are no proper school resources, such as equipment and learning and support materials.
The people who are running the “school” are not employed by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). The WCED have not received an application for the registration of an independent school at this site and I have not, as Minister, established as per law, a new school in the area.
I am also aware that many of the children at the “school” are subject to compulsory schooling.
I am therefore forced to conclude that this is an illegal operation. Having visited the school, witnessed its conditions, and having confirmed that it is operating illegally I have, this morning, laid a formal complaint at the Harare police station.
I have informed them that this particular site is operating in contravention to the law. It is now time for the police to take over and ensure that the community members that are operating this site face the law.
They, the operators of this site, are fully aware that this school is not registered. They were informed, in person last week, by two senior officials of the WCED that they were operating illegally. They have also prevented our officials from issuing a notice to parents at the “school”.
The notice read as follows:
Parents – please note
1. This is not a registered school.
2. If your child is at this venue then he/she is not at a school.
3. The Western Cape Education Department has arranged to accommodate your child at a legally recognised school.
4. For further details, telephone 021 900 7038 or 021 900 7173.
It is now clear that the people running this operation have their own interests, and not those of the learners, at heart. It is unfortunate that the parents of these learners are being swayed by their propaganda. The fact is that the WCED does have places for these learners.
The WCED have, in the last two weeks, gone above and beyond normal enrolment processes to help assist these learners. However, several attempts to place them in schools have either been disrupted by certain people or ignored by the parents themselves.
We have in our possession a list of 138 learners that needed placement. These learners have already been individually matched with specific schools in their relevant grades. We have communicated with parents through various channels and have held two special registration periods for the parents to enrol their children. It is clearly evident that we have tried to assist these parents and their children.
Unfortunately, the parents of these learners have ignored our offers of placement and have instead opted to place their children at this unregistered, illegal “school” that has no real resources or equipment.
Children have to be enrolled by their parents. We cannot physically force them to do so. Failure to enrol their children at a registered school is at the expense of their child’s education. They are essentially blocking their children’s rights to receive a quality education.
It is also clear that the people who are organizing and running the “school” are trying to force the WCED to employ them. My message to these people is that their interests are not paramount in this matter. It is the learners’ interests that are paramount. My complaint to South African Police Service (SAPS) today was therefore made on behalf of the children at this illegal “school”.