The Eastern Cape Education Department has resorted to court to urgently force the closure of several unregistered schools operating in the Centane, Butterworth and Nqamakhwe areas, says a Daily Dispatch report.

Education MEC Fundile Gade and SG Temba Kojane’s clampdown on unregistered and illegal schools ended up in the Eastern Cape High Court (Makhanda) last week, where it was argued that seven schools should be immediately closed down and some 800 children sent to nearby public schools or registered independent schools.

It was argued that the operation of the schools should be declared unlawful and that their owners be interdicted from operating them until they were registered.

Gade said in an affidavit that anyone had the right to establish an independent educational institution but it had to be registered with the state.

Gade said the department’s formal investigations into unregistered schools found that some of them had inadequate sanitation.

Many classrooms were not considered safe with no access control, gate control, burglar bars or emergency exits. Some schools even lacked electricity and running water. Most did not have adequate qualification or other information on file on their teachers.

They lacked employee contracts, UIF numbers, qualification records or proof of SA citizenship.

Files on pupils were often also inadequate.

Most lacked proper textbooks and learning materials, as well as stock and asset registers.

There were no budgets, cash projections, bookkeeping or proper financial accounting systems. Most were not audited.

The report notes Acting Judge Sunil Rugunanan reserved judgment.

Full Daily Dispatch report