Mpuma education denies closing down schools

Mbombela - The Mpumalanga education department has refuted claims that they closed down two independent schools within the past two weeks, leaving 600 pupils stranded.

That is after the Democratic Alliance released a statement condemning the “closure” of Shammah College in Tonga near Malalane and Barberton Academy in Barberton, saying they were forced to close after the department withdrew financial subsidies for both schools.

“The department only withdrew its subsidy to Shammah College since the school performed below the provincial average in their 2013 Grade 12 results,” said provincial department spokesperson Jasper Zwane on Thursday.

Zwane said Shammah College obtained 69.2% in 2013 while the provincial average was 77.6%.

“This is in accordance to the dictates of the National Norms and Standards for School funding, amended in 2008,” he said, adding that the department had worked with parents to ensure that pupils are not negatively affected.

“The department does not know of any learner who has been left stranded. In fact there is a letter from the College expressing its appreciation in the manner at which the department assisted them in this regard.”

Zwane said as the DA was lying that the Barberton Academy was closed.

“This school is up and running. The owner was intending to close the school after he relocated from Barberton. He wrote letters to parents indicating his intention to close the school but could no longer proceed with that process.

“As we speak teaching and learning is the order of the day at this school and is being monitored on daily basis by the department. It will be appreciated in future that the DA get clarity from department first before it issues media statements,” Zwane said.

Provincial DA leader Anthony Benadie said the department’s action was unlike their approach to the controversial Cefups Academy, where abuse of pupils has been reported over a decade.

“The department must clarify whether the schools were given written notice of the intention to terminate or reduce their subsidy and whether they were given the opportunity to make written representations as to why the subsidy should not be terminated or reduced,” said Banadie.