The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) has closed 11 schools in the province in the past five years. This has occurred while learners continue to be taught in overcrowded classrooms and an environment not conducive to teaching or learning.
This information was revealed in a recent written reply by MEC Matome Chiloane to questions tabled by the DA in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.
Of the 11 schools that have been closed, three were converted into Public Special Schools, while the department has deserted the rest. Gauteng schools are overcrowded, lack resources and their infrastructure is dilapidated, which puts the lives of learners and teachers at risk.
Parents are opting to take their children to schools that perform better, where there is discipline and minimal disruptions during school days. Some schools are forced to shut down because they are being abandoned by parents and guardians seeking better quality education for their kids. However, this leads to more pressure on the resources of schools receiving a high influx of learners. There is also an additional financial burden because of the need for scholar transport for learners travelling further to receive an education.
Gauteng has a demand for more than 120 new schools that need to be built, but the department is closing schools. Unfortunately, the infrastructure of many of the schools that have been closed is not being utilised.
The DA proposes that MEC Chiloane looks at repurposing the infrastructure of the schools that have been closed since 1994, as with the proper investment and maintenance, this will help meet the demand in the province.
It will also be crucial that the department ensures that leaders fit for purpose are appointed to lead these schools.