By APHIWE NGOWAPI
The Eastern Cape provincial education department has backed down on its plan to merge the primary school section of the Hendrik Kanise Combined School, an English-medium school which offers IsiXhosa Home Language, with the George Jacques Primary School, which is an Afrikaans-medium school.
The merger of the two Alicedale schools was placed on hold on 16 February after protests by parents and pupils at George Jacques Primary School, who want their children to be taught in their mother tongue – Afrikaans.
On Monday, the 13th of February, the primary school’s gates were padlocked by furious parents and school governing body (SGB) members. This followed protests earlier this month and last year.
“I was very, very delighted about the news,” said Tina Marais, principal of George Jacques Primary, following a meeting outside the school on the 15th of February. Marais further added that this decision would ensure stability in the school and end protests by parents.
“I would like to see that we can resume our duties as educators as soon as possible,” said Marais. She was unable to provide a comment on when the school gates would be open, as the decision would be taken by the parent community and the department of education, which is set to report back to the community in seven days formally.
George Jacques school has also been without a qualified grade two teacher since April 2022.
“We want a grade two teacher. That’s why we closing the school. Another thing is that, our school is not going to change because we are Afrikaans born,” commented one of the protestors.
Grocott’s Mail reported last year that the battle over the proposed rationalisation of school resources in Alicedale had surfaced language rights tensions in the town.
“We demand a grade two teacher. If ever they not send us a grade two teacher, these gates won’t open anymore. It doesn’t matter to us how long it is going to take; these gates are not going to open,” replied another protesting parent.
Grocott’s Mail has reached out to the principal of Hendrik Kanise Combined School Monde Miyana, for comment, and will include this when received.
Hendrik Kanise’s SGB chairperson said last year that they would accept the merger as long as sufficient teachers were provided to teach the larger group of school pupils.