By Masilo Malakwane
QWAQWA -Confusion and distress have abound in Makong village following the education department ‘s decision to shut down yet another school, Makong intermediate school, citing inadequate learner turn out.
The Matsieng royal council has since expressed its shock at the education department’s sudden decision to shut the school down.
The head of the council where school is located, Chief Selebalo Mopeli, told The Guard that the department reasons to close the school due to the low turnout of learners’ is feeble.
“The department circuit manger, Maputswe Ntjhefu should have initially engaged me before disseminating the declaration letter to the school, because the school is situated within the land of the royal council,” said Chief Mopeli.
According to Matsieng royal house, it is not the first time the education department in Thabo Mofutsanyana recommends to shut down this intermediate school which is regarded as a vehicle to a bright future for the children of Makong.
The secretary of the royal house, Mmadikwankwetla Tello Sempe said two years ago the royal house requested the department to rescind its resolution to close down the school. She described the department’s decision as regrettable.
“It evidently shows that the government is not willing to improve education in the rural areas, ”Sempe said.
The royal council also expressed concern at the department’s closing down of schools, without giving a thought to the unused buildings which turn into targets of vandalism and criminality.
However, the school governing body representative, Monica Mokoena has fired a broadside at Ntjhefu, for allegedly dragging down his feet regarding the distribution of documents of the school’s turn out strategy.
“We requested Mr Ntjhefu to send it to district education to apply for grade R learners in order to improve the learner turnout ,but we have not yet received the department’s response,” Mokoena said.
A resident of Makong village ,Samuel Molefe, is also perturbed by the department’s decision to shut down the school.
He lamented that the vision QwaQwa first Prime Minister, Dr TK Mopeli of building schools closer to where communities, is now under attack.
“Our neighbourhoods are under siege from crime and our kids are befallen by all kinds of mishaps while walking long distances to school.”
Provincial education department spokesperson Howard Ndaba, said the department had decided that schools with low learner enrolment should be classified as inadequately performing schools.
“The national school administration policy has a clause that allows the education member of executive committee to shut down a school after reviewing a number of performance measures. In the case of Makong intermediate school, such conclusions were made in the interest of improvement of learners’ education.
“In most cases, farm schools were often unable to achieve better productivity hence the department would eventually send children to other schools for better education” Ndaba said .
Meanwhile during the tabling of the 2020/21 budget at Mohaladitwe in QwaQwa in March 2021, education MEC Tate Makgoe announced that department intended to close 51 non-viable schools in the province.
“We will also close non-viable routes, covering 80 km that has less than 10 learners. We are expanding the farm school hostels project to accommodate 21 farm learners. Currently there are 44 hostels in the province , accommodating 6401 farm learners.”