HUNDREDS of residents marched on the Western Cape education offices in Knysna yesterday to protest against government plans to close several schools in the province.
Southern Cape ANC secretary Putco Mapitiza said the Knysna residents wanted to register their disillusionment with the Education Department as they were still recovering from last year's Rheenendal bus tragedy, in which 14 pupils and their driver died after their bus plunged into a swollen river.
The National Prosecuting Authority found there was insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone for the accident.
If the school closures go ahead, the children from Brackenhill and Redlands primary schools in Knysna will be bused to another school.
Eleven schools in the Eden and Karoo education district have been given notice of possible closure.
According to the Education Department, they are Rondevlei Primary in George, Warmbad-Spa Primary in Calitzdorp, Krombeksrivier Primary in Heidelberg, Langkloof Primary in Riversdale, Welbedacht Primary, Rietfontein Primary and Rodewal Primary, all in Oudtshoorn, Denneprag Primary in Mossel Bay and Wittedrift Primary in Plettenberg Bay, along with Brackenhill and Redlands.
Education spokeswoman Bronagh Casey said a final decision on the closures would be made after all prescribed public participation processes and procedures had been completed, and careful consideration given to representations by the governing bodies.
The department's reasons for the school closures include dwindling pupil numbers, unsuitable accommodation, poor retention rates and poor literacy and numeracy results.
Knysna residents, with ANC and SA Democratic Teachers' Union members as well as the Brackenhill and Redlands governing bodies, called in a memorandum for Education MEC Donald Grant's dismissal for allegedly misleading the public and demanded the schools remain open.