Taking its cue from the ANC Youth League in Cape Town, the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) has announced that it intends to protest against school closures in the Western Cape.
The DA Youth recognises the democratic right of Cosas to legitimate and lawful protest. We challenge Cosas to exercise that right in the ANC-governed provinces where school closures are taking place.
In KwaZulu-Natal, the Provincial Education Department has just announced that hundreds of small schools will be closed but we have not heard a peep from Cosas or any other ANC-affiliated organisation. In the Northern Cape, it was announced at the beginning of the month that 20 schools across the province would be closed down due to declining learner numbers.
School closures are a fact of life in every province. According to South African Institute of Race Relations, since 2000, 1 116 schools have been closed in the Free State, 648 in North West, 590 in the Eastern Cape, 215 in Mpumalanga, 173 in Limpopo and 111 in the Northern Cape.
If Cosas was really driven by principled opposition to school closures, it would take up our challenge with gusto and launch the same protests in other provinces as it is doing in the Western Cape.
But Cosas won’t do that because it is only interested in political point-scoring. Cosas knows full well that school rationalization is a proper and legitimate process designed to improve access to quality education in the Western Cape. They also know that, over the next three years, the Western Cape Government is building 81 schools.
Since the DA was elected to government in the Western Cape, the matric pass rate has increased after seven years of decline under the ANC. Since the DA was elected to govern in the City of Cape Town, far more resources have been directed towards service delivery for the poor than under the ANC.
It is time for Cosas and the ANC Youth League to grow up and stop playing politics with the lives of poor young people.