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Western Cape Education on protection of learners and teachers in Graafwater area

Western Cape Education Department  approaches court to protect learners and teachers in Graafwater area

Last year I announced the closure of Graafwater High School, to be repurposed as a school of skills, which is much needed in the Graafwater and surrounding areas.  Currently, there are also no Special Schools or a School of Skills in the Graafwater area. The vast geographical area of the West Coast District currently means that learners requiring high levels of support often have to travel great distances over weekends when hostels close.

These learners were sometimes not even be able to find a space at special needs schools, as the closest ones (128km-138km away) had  reached their capacity and cannot accommodate the number of applications received each year – leaving hundreds of learners that are unable to cope in mainstream schools with no alternative option. It is imperative that we provide opportunities for these learners in this area.

Learners who were previously enrolled at the high school have been allocated space in an alternate school, and learner transport has been arranged. The decision has been made in the best interests of our learners, to create more learning opportunities on the West Coast.

For months now, a group of people led by a Mr Franklin Adams has been expressing their disagreement with the decision, and for the past few weeks their disagreement has escalated to harassment of staff preparing for the opening of the new Graafwater Special School (as it is now known) to open for learners on Monday.  Some parents are also refusing to accept the new school arrangement.

Last week, the threats became increasingly violent, and as a result, and in order to protect our staff and learners, we had no choice but to approach the Western Cape High Court this weekend for an urgent interdict.

The parties cited in the application agreed to our relief, and the agreement was made an order of court.  Thus, the parties named are prevented from being within 100m of Graafwater Special School, and are barred from in any other manner threatening, disrupting or endangering learners or staff at the school or those using learner transport.

Mr Adams (who has previously been arrested for assaulting SAPS officers) has responded by posting pictures of weapons and threats online (attached) to continue his activities. After discussions between our lawyers, he has now removed it.

In the meantime, the WCED is working with SAPS to ensure that our schools will re-open safely, and we trust that those who disrupt schooling in violation of learners’ rights will face the full might of the law.

The decision has been made, after following the prescribed legal processes, in the best interests of the learners.  To threaten and intimidate innocent people, including children, to further one’s own ends – whatever those may be – is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

 

Source: Government of South Africa

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