Rural Schools get the short end of the stick


Once again the Dept of Education has let down the Riebeeck East Combined School in Makana.

Last year a delegation was sent to Riebeeck East Combined School to assess plant to build a hostel which would accommodate children from farming areas around Riebeeck East. These learners would be weekly boarders. In this way the school would be fully staffed and all learners in the area would be educated in a healthy and safe environment. This was a most appealing plan.

However, The Dept of Education, without any consultation, has reneged on this promise and has forced all Grade 10, 11 and 12 learners to attend school in Grahamstown, due to their low numbers. This means that 27 pupils must commute on an extremely dangerous road, dependent on an unreliable Scholar Transport system, or forgo completing their education.  Their unemployed parents had to foot the bill for new uniforms. Needless to say, the transport began a week late.

To add insult to injury, when schools opened, no Foundation Phase teacher reported for duty. This resulted in a community member supervising 67 young learners while our Education Officials did nothing. The single Foundation Phase teacher who left at the end of last year was simply not replaced.

Thirdly there is no Maths and Natural Sciences teacher for grades 7, 8 and 9. These 28 learners are thus handicapped when making subject choices for their FET phase and for their future careers.  The Department suggests that these pupils find schooling in Grahamstown.  Our children are not numbers and they have a fundamental right to a quality education in their own community.

The DoE also want to use current teachers teaching Grades 7, 8 and 9 when they go to Grahamstown to teach Foundation Phase. This will be demotivating for the teachers and not acceptable for Foundation Phase as they are not qualified Foundation Phase teachers.

Parents of the children of Riebeeck East Combined School are irate at the lack of empathy shown by DoE. They have requested the Dept to do the following:

  1. Supply two properly qualified Foundation Phase teachers as a matter of urgency.
  2. Supply a senior phase Maths and Natural Sciences Teacher.
  3. Bring back Grade 10, 11 and 12 classes and build the hostel as previously planned.

The Riebeeck East community has lived here for generations. They intend to stay here and raise their children in a safe environment. The clear pressure from the DoE to close the school is unacceptable and they are adamant that this should not happen.

We hope the DoE will do the right thing………….


Written by Cllr Cary Clark on behalf of the parents of Riebeeck East Combined School

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