Need for more high schools

The construction of a new high school, on the corner of Rocky and Kilimanjaro streets in Tafelsig has brought about renewed calls for more high schools to be build in Mitchell’s Plain.

Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for Education MEC Debbie Schäfer, said the construction of a new high school in Tafelsig is on the cards as the Department of Education has allocated about R60 million from the 2018/19 budget to kick-start the project.

The new structure will be for AZ Berman High School, which is currently operating from prefab buildings on the grounds of Tafelsig High School.

AZ Berman High School opened in 2013 with 380 pupils for Grade 8 and Grade 9.

However, Riyaad Najaar, chairperson of the Progressive Principal’s Association and principal at Spine Road High School in Rocklands, urged government to build more high schools in the area in an effort to fight overcrowding in schools. There are only 17 high schools, including Darul Arqam Islamic High School in Eastridge, compared to 65 primary schools in the area, he said. “There is a major need for high schools in Mitchell’s Plain, particularly in an area like Tafelsig,” said Mr Najaar.

“You’ll find that in a school you have about 1 300 learners while the school was built for only 800 pupils. In all schools in Mitchell’s Plain there are children from Tafelsig,” said Mr Najaar.

He said the building of AZ Berman High School in Tafelsig is long overdue. “AZ Berman is evidence that more schools are needed. It (A.Z Berman) has been operating for four years from temporary classes,”said Mr Najaar.

He said the association is lobbying and requesting for decent accommodation for children of the poor.

“Our mission is to fight for the voiceless. The education system has never been equal – apartheid took different forms.”

He said now affluent black people send their children to wealthy schools with good resources while the poor are left behind.

Ms Shelver said construction of AZ Berman High School is likely to start towards the end of the 2018/19 financial year, probably beginning of 2019. She emphasised that the dates are subject to change, depending on the budget availability and progress during planning.

“The budget is at approximately R60 million. This amount will change once the design is finalised and the project goes to tender. The planned completion date at this stage is May 2020 (based on the draft 2018/19 user asset management plan UAMP) and again this is subject to change as planning progresses,” said Ms Shelver.

She said the need for the high school was identified years ago. “The need for a high school was so great that we established the mobile school A.Z Berman High School. This new school will accommodate the pupils of the mobile school and it is planned to register for approximately 1 000 pupils,” said Ms Shelver.

She said the Western Cape Education Department have invested R1.6 billion in schools in the province in the 2017/2018 financial year. “The 2017/18 financial year will see the completion of five new schools and six replacements schools,” she said, but failed to explain how many primary or high schools will be build or which ones will be replaced.